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      Trump's Presidency and the New Expansion of Israeli Settlements:
      A Little Help From My Friend

      By Noah Fine

      Trump and Netanyahu, Kindred Spirits

      To those shocked at the seemingly endless flow of ridiculous political entertainment provided by US President Donald Trump and his team, it’s important to remember that the Trump style of politics is nothing new. In fact it has been the base of Israeli and especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy since before Trump was a political force.

      It’s no wonder that the two have become a pair of kindred spirits since Trump was elected. The two seem to please themselves in egging each other on towards the most treacherous of policies at the expense of the poor and oppressed of the world.

      On December 23, 2016 during Obama’s last stretch as president, his government abstained on a UN resolution calling for Israel to halt its illegal expansion of settlements into the West Bank of Palestine, allowing the resolution to pass. This was the only resolution condemning Israel to have passed at the UN during Obama’s presidency. In comparison successive US presidents both Democrat and Republican had on many occasions allowed almost identical resolutions to pass. Obama also signed the friendliest aid package to Israel in U.S. history allocating $38 billion in U.S. taxpayers’ money to the Israeli military over the next 10 years. Regardless of the fact that by the numbers Obama’s government was the friendliest to Israel since the illegal establishment of the Israeli State, Netanyahu and Trump used the occasion of the UN vote to set the precedent for the upcoming period of US-Israeli relations under a Trump administration.

      Settlements on the Rise

      Since the establishment of the State of Israel on occupied Palestine and it’s acceptance as a member state of the UN, Israel has been bound, even if only symbolically to international law. The UN partition plan for Palestine adopted in 1947 allocated two sections of land for the creation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel. The two areas known as the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) to the North-East and the Gaza Strip to the South-West of what was once the land of Palestine were to be preserved. However despite dozens of condemnations which have been passed by both the UN general membership and Security Council, Israel has continued expanding illegal settlements into the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Today illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank have reached well over half a million people. The statistics are difficult to obtain as there are both authorized and non-authorized settlements in the West Bank.

      Despite at least 11 UN resolutions condemning Israeli expansion into the West Bank dating from 1967-2017, Israel has continued relatively unfettered in its pursuit of the illegal colonization of the West Bank.

      It had become a norm in US government statements to condemn the expansion of these settlements in favour of the UN resolutions and a two-state solution for the Palestinian problem. However, regardless of these statements Israel continued to build and the US government continued to send billions of dollars of aid to support them. After the most recent UN resolution in December of last year Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry re-affirmed the traditional US position on the settlements when he stated “…if there is only one state, you would have millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank…” On January 24th, 2017 Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer when asked about expanding Israeli settlements simply said, “We’re going to have a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and we’ll continue to discuss that… Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States, he wants to grow closer with Israel, to make sure that it gets the full respect that it deserves in the Middle East.” Spicer’s statement was void of any even theatrical criticism of Israel unlike previous US administrations.

      On Tuesday January 31st, the government of Israel announced plans to build another 3,000 settler homes in the West Bank, while at the same time Trump is “doing very detailed studies,” as he told the Christian Broadcasting Network, on moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem “in the not-too-distant future.” At the moment all foreign diplomatic missions in Israel are based in Tel Aviv. East Jerusalem as per the UN partition plan is designated to be the Palestinian capital. Netanyahu has been insisting for years that the U.S. move its’ embassy to Jerusalem, a very controversial move that would entrench the Israeli plan to completely annex Palestinian territory and undermine UN and international law.

      If the signs so far that Trump will support this more audacious Israel are correct, it seems the future will hold many more devastating affects for Palestinian people. In fact the Washington Post has just revealed that Trump himself has donated financially to support illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. With a friendlier US President towards Israel, an unchained and unfettered Israel could have grave consequences on the Palestinian people.

      Walls & Bridges

      When President Trump implemented the Muslim Ban and continued his rhetoric on the proposed Mexico border wall, Israeli PM Netanyahu had some words of wisdom for Trump as he himself is a professional in such fields. On January 28th, 2017 Netanyahu tweeted, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” Actually Netanyahu has two walls. One sits on its’ border with Egypt to deter African migrants fleeing the devastation of various African countries as well as the Apartheid Wall which snakes through the West Bank making a Palestinian state impossible and movement of Palestinians within equally difficult. Shortly after Netanyahu’s tweet, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry responded outlining its’, “profound astonishment, rejection and disappointment… Mexico is a friend of Israel and should be treated as such by its Prime Minister.” Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted to the Mexican government to try to smooth things over claiming that PM Netanyahu, “referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share. We do not express a position on US- Mexico relations‬.”

      Occupation is the Problem, a United Palestine is the Solution!

      Regardless of where things go from here between Trump and Netanyahu, the reality is that the further colonization of Palestine is their united goal. Through the expansion of settlements, expansion of the apartheid wall, bi-annual bombing campaigns against the Palestinian Gaza Strip, Israel has proven for almost 70 years that the “Two-State” solution is not in their interest or desire.

      Although Obama and previous US administrations ignored the fact, Netanyahu has always made clear his intentions against a Palestinian state. During the Israeli elections of 2015, which re-elected Netanyahu, the Prime Minister argued in an interview, “Whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel.” When the interviewer asked if that meant there would be no Palestinian State if he is elected, Netanyahu affirmed, “indeed.”

      While Trump’s election may have emboldened the Israeli regime and may speed up the process of colonization and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, the struggle of Palestinian people and their many friends around the world must continue and strengthen. If Israel and the US have made it so clear that a “Two State” solution is not in their interest, then Palestinians and their friends must too make a clear and bold solution.

      Trump presidency has indeed attempted to sew many divisions between people. However, regardless of their attempts people have come together to oppose the Trump regime and its’ policies just as for 70 years people came together to oppose the Israeli Zionist regime and its policies on both the Jewish and Palestinian sides. The solution the people of Palestine and their Jewish sisters and brothers need is not a solution of division but one of unity. The state of Israel and its racist Zionist ideology have been the creator and enforcer of the Palestinian problem and division between the two peoples.

      At Chicago O’Hare airport during mass protests against Trump’s Muslim Ban, protestors brought down the Israeli flag at the airport and raised the Palestinian flag in its place as a show of solidarity with the struggle of Palestinians. Jews and Muslims stood together in protest of Trump’s inhumane ban. Just hours after Trump implemented the ban the Victoria Islamic Centre in Texas was burned to the ground. Robert Loeb, president of the Jewish temple near by visited the Islamic centres founder and handed him the keys to the Jewish synagogue so their Muslim sister and brothers would have a place to worship. And examples like this are spreading.

      Now is a time for coming together regardless of religion, ethnicity or any other human identity used to divide. Palestinian people and Jewish people could live together on the same land, under the same flag and united in a single state called Palestine. With the Right of Return granted to the more than 6 million Palestinian refugees living abroad who were cleansed from their land, each individual would be granted the right to vote and organize democratically, together a better future for all.

      Instead of Israel being recorded in history as one of the great errors of humankind, perhaps Palestine could be recorded as one of the great achievements as a people coming together against the odds for a safer, cleaner, and better world that we all deserve and desperately need.

      Follow Noah on Twitter:@noahfine

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