Netanyahu Featured Speaker at Celebration of 50-Years of ‘Settlement Building’
Two days after US President Donald Trump’s peacemaking envoys left the region against the background of bitter protests from Palestinian leaders angry at the Americans’ failure to articulate an embrace of the so-called ‘two-state solution’ or to clearly demand an end to construction in Israeli post-1967 West Bank communities, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appeared as the featured speaker at a celebration of 50-years of ‘settlement-building.” There, referring to Jewish communities built on land conquered in the 1967 war that is also claimed by the Palestinians for their future state, he proclaimed, “This is the inheritance of our forefathers, this is our country. We came back here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the Land of Israel.” During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump and his surrogates spoke forcefully in support of continued Israeli building which has always been a redline issue for the Palestinians. During last week’s visit by Trump Mideast peace envoys, the White House vehemently denied a media report that said Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and head of the mission, told the Palestinians that forcing Netanyahu to abandon settlement building would cost him his office. But for many observers, that Netanyahu chose the venue and rhetoric at this time and apparently without blowback from the administration, gives the report new credibility, suggesting that White House policy is to presume pitting Netanyahu against his primary base of support will force his demise.