After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Israeli Prime Minister on Friday, the US set out an offer of additional military assistance to Israel in exchange for a 90-day moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank. Construction already in progress on hundreds of units of housing would be allowed to continue during the ‘moratorium’, which also does not include East Jerusalem.Some Palestinian analysts say the U.S. offer is weak, as it does not pressure Israel in any way to adhere to past signed agreements or international law, but merely forestalls the inevitable failure of ‘peace talks’ between two vastly unequal players. Some have even suggested that this is an attempt by the U.S. to bribe Israel to do what it is required to do under international law.
Since the ‘moratorium’ would not include East Jerusalem, where the majority of current construction of Israeli-only homes and displacement of indigenous Palestinian residents is taking place, some Palestinians feel that it is only a token gesture that does not in any way address their concerns.
In exchange for the temporary, partial moratorium on construction, the Israeli military would receive a gift of 20 F35 fighter jets, worth $3 billion. The U.S. made jets, that Israel already has have been used for aerial bombardment of Palestinian civilian areas, in violation of international law, and to drop missiles on Palestinians that Israel claims are ‘wanted’ for crimes against Israelis. These extrajudicial assassinations also violate international law.
The U.S. government also promised Israel that after the 90-day moratorium, they would not seek an extension, and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem could continue unabated.
This offer is an attempt by the U.S. to get Israel to return to the negotiating table, after their refusal to renew a moratorium on new settlement construction resulted in a breakdown of talks with the unelected branch of the Palestinian Authority led by the Fatah party.
All settlement construction by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. The Convention prevents the transfer of civilian populations onto land that was seized by military force. The land in question is Palestinian land that was seized by Israel in 1967, and has been occupied by the Israeli military ever since.