For Benjamin Netanyahu, plans to expand Israeli settlements may risk a diplomatic crisis with Europe but could prove a good bet at the ballot box.
With the forthcoming January 22 election, Benjamin Netanyahu defies long-standing international opposition to settlements and reiterates plans to build at least 3,000 additional residences in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Settlement projects on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, except for Canada and the United States, are considered illegal by most world powers and have routinely drawn condemnation. Despite the international controversy, the Israeli government is now considering new “planning work” in one of the most highly sensitive areas of the West Bank, the “E1”. Israeli housing on the E1 barren hills could split the West Bank in two.
Many Israelis have traditionally viewed the United Nations and many European governments as being particularly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. And in an aside by Netanyahu during a visit to the United States, Israel’s main ally, he appeared to indicate he shared those sentiments. “Americans get it,” he said, referring to arguments he has made in support of his government’s policies. “Europeans don’t.”
So far, with details of the future settler housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem still sketchy and, with the possibility that this announcement was only made for dramatic effect, international anger over the announced E1 settlement plan has not yet led to any sanctions against Israel.
Nice bluff Benjamin.