Editorial |

A Settlement Trap for Trump

To portray construction in the settlements as an exclusive deal between Israel and the American government is misleading and dangerous.

Haaretz Editorial
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Construction underway in the Jerusalem-area settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, December 2016.
Construction underway in the Jerusalem-area settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, December 2016.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Haaretz Editorial

Contrary to the accepted custom of giving the elected president or prime minister a grace period before launching provocative policies, the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality have no intention of honoring this rule of courtesy. On his very first day in office, an Israeli real estate bombardment landed on Donald Trump’s desk. First, the U.S. president had to learn about the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, which was on the verge of being annexed, though a discussion of the issue was ultimately postponed until after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first meeting with Trump. Then, just on Monday, the Jerusalem municipality announced it had approved the construction of 566 homes in the occupied portion of Jerusalem. And not only that, but Netanyahu proudly announced that he intends to remove all political restrictions on building in East Jerusalem, and that he also intends to promote construction in West Bank settlement blocs.

Netanyahu seeks to put all the settlements under Israeli sovereignty, and he has no doubt whatsoever that Ma’aleh Adumim in particular will be annexed. In a tone that can only be interpreted as arrogant mockery, he added, “It’s important that we not surprise the new U.S. administration just days after it took office.” Not surprise Trump? Isn’t this the president who plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? And whose advisors publicly declare their support for Israel’s policies in the territories? Trump, it’s safe to assume, isn’t surprised by any of Israel’s deceptions when it comes to building in the territories. His advisors no doubt remember the tricks the government used to play every time a U.S. secretary of state showed up in Jerusalem to discuss freezing settlement construction.

They’re also familiar with the slogan “a suitable Zionist response,” which covers all real estate crimes and thefts of private Palestinian land. If Education Minister Naftali Bennett is correct in asserting that “a new era has begun with the American administration” – i.e., that everything is now permissible – why did Netanyahu bother donning a mask of courtesy about not surprising Trump, as if the latter were Barack Obama? The answer apparently lies in Netanyahu’s understanding that Israel mustn’t be seen as laying a trap for Trump or as exploiting the freedom of action its patron has provided. Yet the attempt to portray construction in the settlements as an exclusive deal between Israel and the American government is misleading and dangerous. Netanyahu, who declared his agreement two days ago to give the Palestinians “a state minus,” is perpetuating a mirage. Behind the phony spectacle of the Bar-Ilan speech, Netanyahu has tried to destroy every possibility of achieving a two-state solution, the only way to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic country. With Trump behind him and a silent opposition, the prime minister is leading Israel to a binational state, which will be either not Jewish or not democratic.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott