The problem with settlements is not that they are illegal. It’s that they are immoral

File:16-03-31-israelische Siedlungen bei Za'atara-WMA 1178.jpg
Israeli settlement in the West Bank near Za’atara. (photo: Ralf Roletschek)
Settlements are not only an obstacle to peace and but violate the fundamental principle of human equality.

By Peter Beinart | Forward | Nov 19, 2019

… morally, the issue is not whether Jews have the right to live in the West Bank. It’s whether Jews have the right to live there under a different law than their Palestinian neighbors.

Yesterday the Trump administration said Israeli settlements in the West Bank don’t violate international law. That’s absurd. Among international lawyers, the consensus that settlements are illegal rivals the consensus among international scientists that humans contribute to climate change. As UCLA’s Dov Waxman has pointed out, the legal advisor to Israel’s own foreign ministry admitted that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention” after Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967.

But critics who condemn the Trump administration for disregarding international law are missing the deeper point. So are critics who condemn it for undermining the two-state solution.

Fundamentally, the problem with settlements is neither legal nor geopolitical. It is moral. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are institutionalized expressions of bigotry. The American and Israeli politicians who legitimize them are the moral equivalent of those politicians who legitimized Jim Crow. It’s time they be treated as such.

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