The Middle East Channel

The settlement fixation

Of all the problems bedeviling Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the status of Jewish settlements in the West Bank — thrown into the spotlight again this week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States — has surely attracted the most attention. But that does not make it the most important or the most pressing ...

Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images
Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images

Of all the problems bedeviling Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the status of Jewish settlements in the West Bank — thrown into the spotlight again this week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States — has surely attracted the most attention. But that does not make it the most important or the most pressing issue.

Contrary to what many believe, Israelis are largely in agreement over the terms and circumstances under which they would compromise over the settlements — a consensus that is surely larger than that which exists in Palestinian society over how to reconcile the feuding Islamist and secular nationalist factions in Gaza and the West Bank. While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has used settlements as an excuse to disrupt the latest round of peace talks, the open secret in today’s Middle East is that the issue is one of the least problematic obstacles to a final-status agreement.

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