ERIKAT: I understand. But – and you said yourself that you may sound like a broken record and so on. How can you break that pattern? That you move from just saying statements from behind a podium, or by the Secretary himself, into some sort of action that can really bring some results, that can pressure the Israelis to stop or to end this rampant settlement expansion?

TONER: Sure. I mean, ultimate – sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. I mean, ultimately, I mean, the Secretary, as we’ve said, remains engaged, speaks to Prime Minister Netanyahu frequently. But ultimately this is up for the – it’s up to the two sides, or both sides, rather, to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution. So we want to see a de-escalation. We want to see affirmative actions on either side that, as we’ve said, can create an environment where we can talk about moving forward in the peace process. Up to now, we’ve not seen it.


ERIKAT: But surely you agree that only one side takes land for settlements and expansions and so on. The Palestinians don’t do that, right? You can’t blame both sides for the expansion of settlements, can you?

TONER: Well, but we’ve seen the violence carried out by Palestinian… ERIKAT: Okay, but that is an independent – an issue that is independent of the settlements. I’m talking about the settlements. What can you do to basically exert some sort of real, tangible pressure on the Israelis to at least slow down the settlement process? TONER: Sure. Said, this is something we’ve talked about many times in the past, and I agree, it’s a difficult challenge. Obviously, we make clear our disagreement publicly, and the fact that we believe that this is counter to any effort to achieve a two-state solution. It’s detrimental to that process, and we say the same thing privately in our discussions with the Israelis.

Here is how Erikat later wrote it up in Arabic in an article he entitled, “State Department and the United Nations condemn the confiscation of 1500 dunams in the Jordan Valley” on the Al Quds site.

“Israel has received strong criticism in the international arena because of the confiscation of 1500 dunams of Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley area, and declared state lands in preparation for their takeover by settlers as usual,” Erikat wrote.

He quoted Toner as saying: “We strongly oppose every step that will speed up the process of settlement expansion and we believe that this is not commensurate with the two-state solution and puts a big question mark about the Israeli government’s commitment to such a solution.”

Actually every Israeli now questions Palestinian Authority’s commitment to such a solution, even former leftists. Only the international community hasn’t gotten there yet.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Zionist Union party, said this week in an interview on Israeli radio that the so-called “two-state solution” is no longer a realistic option, at least not in the near future.

Herzog said that although he “wants negotiations” and “wants very much to move towards that option” he just “doesn’t see the possibility of doing it right now.”

The center-left politician blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the situation and claimed that neither is capable of moving forward.

Herzog also maintained that Israel needs to complete the security barrier and physically separate Arab villages surrounding Jerusalem from the capital in order to match the reality on the ground.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.