Photo Credit: courtesy, Regavim
Israeli town of Efrat, a six-minute drive from the southern outskirts of Jerusalem, and the hill upon which a new neighborhood, Givat Eitam, is to be built.

On May 21, 2023, the U.S. State Department issued a statement about Israeli “Settlements in the West Bank.” It read:

“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank, which according to Israeli law was illegally built on private Palestinian land. This order is inconsistent with both former Prime Minister Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush Administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government’s commitments to the Biden Administration. Advancing Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution.”


There were many things covered in this paragraph:

  • Israeli law about whether building in the “Homesh outpost” is legal;
  • The 2004 exchange of letters between Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon and U.S. President George W. Bush;
  • The current Israeli commitments to the Biden Administration; and
  • Whether Israeli Jews “living in the West Bank is an obstacle…to a two-state solution.”

Israeli Law

First, it’s a bit rich for the United States to make comments about Israeli law. I cannot imagine that the U.S. would take kindly to any country opining on its rulings on imminent domain, seizing land to build a wall with Mexico, or any other real estate matter.

While Israeli courts have ruled against approving building on privately owned land, the courts have also legalized previously unauthorized settlements. Countries modify their rulings depending on societal needs of the moment. For example, the Israeli courts had approved Israeli owners taking ownership of the homes they own in the Sheikh Jarrah section of Jerusalem but then suspended the eviction of the Arab squatters because of violence. Matters of real estate in Israel are a matter of law as well as security and order.

The 2004 Exchange of Letters

In the middle of the 2000-2005 Arab pogroms which killed over 1,000 Israelis, Israeli PM Sharon decided that he was going to build a security barrier to stop terrorism emanating from the West Bank, and to pull all Israelis out of Gaza. In exchange for these actions, U.S. President Bush issued a letter in support of the actions with U.S. commitments.

The State Department just referenced the 2004 Sharon letter because while Sharon understood there was no chance for peace with Palestinians at that time, he “decided to initiate a process of gradual disengagement with the hope of reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians.” Sharon’s “Disengagement Plan” called for pulling all Israelis out of Gaza “as well as other military installations and a small number of villages in Samaria,” which included the town of Homesh and three other nearby villages.

The Israeli Disengagement Plan was not a “commitment” as described in the latest State Department statement. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Sharon made clear that it “represents an independent Israeli plan” designed to create space between the parties while terrorism was ongoing.

In addition to incorrectly calling the dismantling of Homesh a commitment, the State Department ignored U.S. commitments that Bush made to Sharon in that exchange of letters.

The Bush letter repeatedly stated that the U.S. is committed to fight Palestinian terrorism and incitement and that it will work to “prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat.” That was in 2004 and Israel left Gaza the following year in 2005.

Then what happened?

The Palestinians held elections in 2006 under America’s watch, and the terrorist group Hamas won a majority of Parliament. In 2007, Hamas routed Fatah and took control of Gaza, and proceeded to launch wars against Israel in 2008, 2012, 2014 and more recently.

So much for America’s commitment to preventing the abandoned areas “from posing a threat.”

Further, in another part of his letter, Bush stated clearly that “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” In plain English, that meant that the United States acknowledged that Israel will annex sections of the West Bank.

Yet the Obama Administration broke that commitment to Israel when it allowed United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass in 2016, making it illegal for Israelis to live east of “the armistice lines of 1949.”

In short, Israel made no commitments in the 2004 letter while the United States trampled on its commitments to Israel.

Current Commitment to Biden Administration

Israel met with the U.S. and Palestinian Authority in Egypt in March 2023 and issued a joint statement which covered a number of issues including “an Israeli commitment to stop discussion of any new settlement units for 4 months, and to stop authorization of any outposts for 6 months.” As Homesh was an existing settlement until it was dismantled in 2005, it is debatable whether allowing its redevelopment runs counter to Israel’s statement.

It should be noted that the Palestinian Authority has completely ignored its stated March 2023 commitments, as it continues to incite violence.

Jews As Obstacle to Two State Solution

Roughly 25% of Israeli citizens are non-Jews, so the notion that a theoretical Arab state of Palestine cannot be viable with a small percentage of Jews is ridiculous. It can only be viewed as an “obstacle” to two states if the Palestinian Authority refuses to have any Jews living in the country.

And if Palestine can only be created as a Jew-free state, it should never be admitted to the United Nations or recognized by any country.

Road in Judea and Samaria

The State Department is “deeply troubled” by Israeli action in the village of Homesh because its accounting of history and facts are deeply flawed. More generally, if the U.S. assumes that a Palestinian State must be Jew-free, it should adamantly oppose its existence.

Related articles:

Time to Define Banning Jews From Living Somewhere as Antisemitic

When were Jews barred from living in Judea & Samaria?

The Palestinian State I Oppose

Pro Israel Advocates Should Stop Using “Judea and Samaria”

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem and Joe Biden

Related video:

Judea and Samaria (music by Foo Fighters)

E1: The Battle for Jerusalem (music by The Who)

{Reposted from the author FirstOneThrough site}

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Paul Gherkin is founder of the website FirstOneThrough, which is dedicated to educating people on Israel, the United States, Judaism and science in an entertaining manner so they speak up and take action. In a connected digital world, each person can be a spokesperson by disseminating news to thousands of people by forwarding articles or videos to people, or using the information to fight on behalf of a cause because In a connected digital world. YOU are FirstOneThrough.