On February 15, Donald Trump met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During their meeting, President Trump said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.“
Let’s talk about settlements and why they are necessary for the survival of the state of Israel.
The settlements in question are located in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. But, why are they necessary for the state of Israel’s existence? To put it simply: in order to prevent a fascistic, terrorist, and immoral regime from taking power, a strong Jewish presence must exist. If this presence takes the form of settlements, so be it. The aforementioned terrorist regime is Hamas, the governing body of Gaza.
To orient ourselves to the proper context, we have to go back to 2005.
As part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Israel disengaged from Gaza. The Jewish people withdrew from all Israeli settlements located there. Those residents who refused to leave their long-standing, well-established homes were forcibly removed. Approximately 8,000 Jews had to abandon their homes as the demolition of the settlements took place.
The removal of the only Jewish presence in the Gaza Strip turned out to be a massive mistake. Post-withdraw, the Palestinians elected a government that was and still is unified with egregiously terroristic radicals. The only thing that could have stopped this terror government from being elected was to maintain the Israeli settlements in the area and not withdraw.
Because of the disengagement, we are stuck with the terror hub ran by religious fundamentalists known as the Gaza Strip.
It is in Israel’s most immediate national interest to not let a government both morally and religiously synonymous with Hamas arise. The emergence of a sure to be terroristic “Palestinian state” is something that the international community has been pushing for a long time, but must be suppressed. The most practical way of doing that is not by relinquishing the Jewish control that is left in the West Bank but instead furthering and maintaining it. This is the primary purpose of why the Israeli settlements exist to this day.
One of the main cases against Israeli settlements that has been promulgated by politicians and anti-Semites for decades is: the Israeli settlements are the product of an expansionist government and are illegal under international law.
In 1948, the one-day-old state entered into a conflict. Israel’s neighboring Arab countries attacked it. By the will of a miracle, the Jewish state didn’t just survive; it won a clear and decisive victory. Later on, in 1967, eight Arab countries geared up to attack Israel again. The West Bank and other Jordanian land were only seized after the leader of Jordan aligned with Egypt and attacked Israel, ignoring pleas and warnings from the Israelis not to.
The land gained wasn’t a product of an expansionist Israel, but a defensive Israel. They were fighting for their right to exist.
If you’re interested in more information regarding the legality of settlement, I’d advise reading The Illegal-Settlements Myth which outlines the history in a concise but accurate manner.