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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe LevantBiden and the Israeli Settlement Elephant in the Room

Biden and the Israeli Settlement Elephant in the Room

Author: Yousef Munayyer

Affiliation/Organization: Arab Center Washington DC

Date/Place: Jan 5, 2022/Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 2064



Keywords: Biden, Settlement, Palestine, Israel, and USA


The author talks about the Israeli settlements in Palestine and their relation to American foreign policy. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been an issue for the US throughout the years; achieving a settlement restriction was a key element of the Obama administration’s peace approach in the hopes of resuming a political framework that would lead to an agreed settlement. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government remained unhelpful, and soon the administration gave up on maintaining a settlement freeze. President Joe Biden learned some important insights from Obama’s period—that focusing on settlements is not a viable approach. Attempting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears to be a losing battle that can only be managed. Because Israeli settlements continue to reflect the most hazardous tension spots that contribute to violence and conflict, such a strategy is critically incorrect and difficult to succeed. The author identifies that in the last few years, the settlements and the displacement of Palestinians has been higher than ever. He highlights three distinct but critical places where Israeli colonization may push the Biden Administration to act. The first is the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Jerusalem. The second is the Atarot, where the settlements are intended to cut off the Palestinians from the capital. Finally, Homesh, where Israeli radicals demanded to rebuild the settlement after it was demolished. For the author, the goal of Biden’s program might be divided into two categories: preservation and management. If the aim is preservation—that is, keeping the geographical and demographic position as it is, then avoiding settlement expansion has to be a top concern. The ongoing destruction of Palestinian farms and construction of Jewish-only settlements not only continues to change demography, but it also assures that political circumstances remain hostile to a peaceful settlement. If the aim is to limit disruptive violence while accepting that no deal is feasible, then limiting settlement growth must be a primary concern. Settlement growth has often served as the fuel of Israeli persecution of Palestinians, stealing their land and houses. However, with each new settlement, Palestine is becoming more and more fragile and harder to save. 


Critical Commentary:

The resolution that the Biden administration is reaching is not offering a fair solution. The author claims that Biden doesn’t put the settlements into consideration as the Obama administration did, but yet he stated that the number of settlements increased in the past year like never before. The US is becoming paradoxical, and the author doesn’t mention how the US as an advocate for human rights yet pretends to not see the displacement of hundreds of people including children; it is not something to be disregarded. The author also limits the aim of the Biden administration into only two aims when in reality the issue is a lot deeper. 

By: Zeina Akef, CIGA Research Intern



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