With the help of election translation services pollsters suggest Benjamin Netanyahu will comfortably win next weeks elections on Tuesday. He promised no Jewish settlements in the West Bank will be removed if he wins – the failure to remove these settlements could prove problematic for the Israeli and Palestinian peace making process as it is both a sensitive geographical area and a prerequisite for Palestinian cooperation.
“The days when bulldozers uprooted Jews are behind us, not in front of us,” Netenyahu said. “We haven’t uprooted any settlements, we have expanded them. Nobody has any lessons to give me about love for the Land of Israel or commitment to Zionists and its settlements.”
Since Israel occupied parts of east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, more than half a million Jews have chosen to reside there. As a rule, the international community deemed these settlements illegal – however the Israeli government often denies and disputes the notion.
Statistics provided by the Israeli settlements watchdog group Peace Now show Israeli tenders and approvals for construction in East Jerusalem had reached record levels under the present government. Isolated settlements now account for nearly 40% of all new constructions – this is twice as that of the years before.
Even though Mr Netanyahu always championed settlements he has also had a weaker, perhaps more sentimental side – promising he would be prepared to make “painful concessions” (i.e. withdrawing some settlements) in the interest of the peace process agreements with the Palestinians.
The Palestinians on the other hand, insist all settlements must be dismantled from the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to proceed with further peace making negotiations. Why? Palestinians want to establish a Palestinian state in the area. But Netanyahu does not appear to share the same dream.
In fact, it is believed the new Israeli government would be one of the most right-wing government ever to have existed in Israel. Given Israel’s system of extreme proportional representation and the surge of a new ultra-nationalist religious party, Bayit Yehudi there is the likelihood the two would form a coalition. Should the pollsters turn out to be true, then the new coalition could potentially prove to be even more hawkish toward the idea of a two-state solution for Israeli and Palestine and no settlements would be even be removed from either the West Bank or East Jerusalem.