These ‘build build build’ comments go to the heart of Israel’s problems

Rachel Shabi writes: Just for a moment, let’s feign astonishment at this new revelation: Naftali Bennett has just become the latest Israeli official to declare the two-state solution a dead end. Speaking at a conference for Jewish settlers, he said the idea of negotiating for an independent Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one was “futile” and “hopeless” and that the only Israeli approach to this conflict should be to “build, build, build” in the Palestinian West Bank (sorry, in the land that has been Israel “for 3,000 years”).

That last line should make clear that this is not a sudden Bennett endorsement of a one-state solution, with equal rights for all.

But it should, of course, be no great surprise that coalition partner Bennett, the Israeli trade minister and leader of ultranationalist party Jewish Home, should come up with this kind of comment. He is not the first to do so, either. The past few years have been studded with similar pronouncements from high-profile officials.

Just last week the deputy defence minister, Danny Danon, said that the coalition government flatly opposed a two-state solution. Another Knesset member, Tzipi Hotovely, has called a two-state solution an “illusion”.

None of that is so dissimilar from statements made by other Israeli ministers throughout the occupation. For instance, former prime minister Ariel Sharon, back in 1998, summarised the official approach when he gave this advice to the settler movement: “Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand more territory. Everything that’s grabbed will be in our hands.” [Continue reading…]

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