Anti-Israeli settlement activists are adopting a new medium to promote their views. Israeli bloggers Noam Rotem and Itamar Shaltiel recently created and released a free Android application called “Buy no Evil” that informs users of products manufactured in one of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank so that consumers can refrain from purchasing those goods. And, just one week prior, Americans for Peace Now (APN) created the “Facts on the Ground” application, which monitors West Bank settlements. With the app, users can view a settlement’s land area, year of establishment, population, ideology, character (secular or religious), amount of “private Palestinian land” it occupies, and a graph that tracks population growth.
The timing of the new phone applications’ release is not coincidental. Amid renewed peace negotiations, Israel allowed its 10-month moratorium on settlement construction to expire yesterday. Indeed, the apps’ timely release highlights how the international community, including the Obama administration, largely considers Israeli settlements to be one of the main obstacles to peace in the Middle East.
An Israeli flag flies in front of the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank.
But while there are a handful of severe obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, settlements is not one of them. Indeed, the Israeli government has illustrated its willingness to leave settlements and land behind for a chance at peace. It did so with Egypt in 1979 and Gaza in 2005. Meanwhile, Israel’s partner in peace, the Palestinian Authority, continues to incite hatred toward Israel.
The international community’s settling on Israeli settlements is a mistake, as it provides the Palestinian Authority with an easy-out of peace talks, and removes the need to pinpoint the real, tough issues that must be addressed in order to reach a true Israeli-Palestinian peace.