The Trump Administration Settles In on Settlements

(Council on Foreign Relations) Elliott Abrams - The Trump administration is steadily defining its policy regarding Israeli settlement activity. What has emerged is a sensible, flexible, and realistic policy. There is no written agreement and that's a good thing. There are understandings. That means there can be no accusations that "you're violating what you signed." The Trump administration understands that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and does not view construction there as "settlement activity." There will be no new settlements built except the one being created for the people evicted from Amona, a settlement deemed illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court. Netanyahu apparently persuaded the administration that he had made that commitment last year, before the Trump presidency, and needed to keep it. New construction in settlements in the West Bank will be in already built-up areas, or if that's impossible, as close to them as possible. There will be some restraint in the pace of settlement expansion. Apparently Netanyahu agreed not to permit new "outposts" to be built without government permission. There will be no annexation of land in the West Bank. The goals are to limit the physical expansion of settlements so that the Israeli footprint in the West Bank does not become larger and larger; to keep most population growth in the larger blocs that will remain with Israel in any final status agreement; and to prevent this issue from occupying center stage and being a constant irritant to the two governments. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the CFR.

2017-04-06 00:00:00

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