Here is a comprehensive, up-to-date timeline charting the nearly 47-year campaign of Israeli settlement development in territories occupied by Israel after the Six-Day War, along with a graph tracking the years and population. This timeline accompanies “The Limits of Diplomacy: Israeli Settlements” by Irwin Arieff.
June 5-10: The settlements have their origins in the Six-Day War pitting Israel against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel wins a decisive victory, gaining control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. In the process it captures about a million Palestinians. Over the following years, Jordan and Egypt drop their claims to the West Bank, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula while Israel annexes East Jerusalem and the Golan. Israel agrees in a March 1979 peace treaty to return the Sinai to Egypt, and pulls out of Gaza in 2005.
Nov. 22: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 242 creating a framework for a formal peace treaty based on an exchange of “land for peace.” The resolution calls for an agreement based on two principles: “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” The resolution today remains a central focus of the Middle East peace process, seen as a plan for Israel to give up territory acquired in war, in exchange for recognition by its Arab neighbors of its right to exist. But the proposed Israeli withdrawal fizzles after Israel essentially maintains that the resolution lets it retain some territories and conditions its withdrawal on a negotiated peace deal including full recognition by its neighbors of its right to exist.
Following the Six-Day War, Jews from around the world, including eventually hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews, begin migrating to Israel, creating a demand for housing and space. Israeli officials begin drafting an official settlement map. Israelis from across the political spectrum see the occupied territories as a spot for new Jewish settlements, accommodating new immigrants while creating a secure buffer zone between Israel and its neighbors. Settler outposts are envisioned in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Hebron, the Golan Heights, Sinai and Gaza.
April 8: The US State Department, in an internal message to its embassy in Israel, says the Lyndon B. Johnson administration has made clear that Washington opposes any settlements in the occupied territories. “The government of Israel is aware of our continuing concern that nothing be done in the occupied areas which might prejudice the search for a peace settlement. By setting up civilian or quasi-civilian outposts in the occupied areas the government of Israel adds serious complications to the eventual task of drawing up a peace settlement. Further, the transfer of civilians to occupied areas, whether or not in settlements which are under military control, is contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
May 21: The UN Security Council votes 13-0 with 2 abstentions to adopt Resolution 252 “reaffirming that acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible” and warning Israel against seizing any property that could “tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem,” which Israel claims as its undivided capital while the international community wants it put under UN administration.
July 3: The Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 267 which “censures in the strongest terms” Israeli actions “tending to change the status of the city of Jerusalem.” The resolution affirms that Israeli expropriation of land and properties in Jerusalem aimed at altering the city’s status “are invalid and cannot change that status.”
Sept. 25: The UN Security Council votes 14-0 with one abstention to adopt Resolution 298 lamenting that Israel ignores its Resolution 252 and other warnings against steps that could change Jerusalem’s legal status.
Oct 22: Seeking a cease-fire in the Yom Kippur War between Israel and a coalition of Arab nations, the UN Security Council adopts Resolution 338 calling on all parties to stop fighting, immediately implement Security Council Resolution 242 “in all of its parts” and begin negotiations “aimed at establishing a just and durable peace. . . . ”
July 28: “This matter of settlements in the occupied territories has always been characterized by our government, by me and my predecessors as an illegal action,” US President Jimmy Carter tells a news conference.
Sept.17: Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign the Camp David Accords following negotiations hosted by President Carter. As part of the agreement, Israel agrees to withdraw all its settlements from the Sinai Peninsula and return it to Egypt. The accords also set Security Council Resolution 242 as the basis for a negotiated Middle East peace, but Carter is unable to secure Israel’s agreement to immediately pull its settlements from the West Bank. Instead the accords call for negotiations aimed at achieving full autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza within at most five years.
March 22: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 446 declaring that Israeli settlements “have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” The resolution, adopted 12-0 with three abstentions, also “strongly deplores the failure of Israel to abide by” previous council resolutions critical of the settlements and calls on it to both rescind previous actions and refrain from any future actions “affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.”
March 1: The Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 465 “strongly deploring” Israel’s refusal to heed the council’s earlier denunciations of settlement activities in the occupied territories, and stressing “the need for protection and preservation of the unique spiritual and religious dimension of the Holy Places” in Jerusalem.
April 12: President Jimmy Carter, asked by a reporter why he lets Israel keep on “humiliating the United States” by continuing to build settlements, responds: “Our position on the settlements is very clear. We do not think they are legal, and they are obviously an impediment to peace. The Israeli government, however, feels that they have a right to those settlements.”
July 30: The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, adopts a law stating that Jerusalem, “complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
Feb. 2: President Ronald Reagan contradicts US policy in place since 1967 on the settlements’ legality. “As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there—I disagreed when the previous Administration referred to them as illegal; they’re not illegal,” he says in an interview with The New York Times.
Israel completes its return of the Sinai to Egypt, as agreed under a 1979 peace treaty. Some 7,000 Israeli settlers are withdrawn from northern Sinai.
Sept. 1: Following an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, President Ronald Reagan puts forward a new US peace plan urging Israel to freeze all settlement activity and suggesting Palestinian self-government. That same month, the League of Arab States, meeting in Fez, Morocco, adopts a declaration calling on Israel to dismantle all its settlements and withdraw from all occupied territories, clearing the way for Palestinian statehood.
May 22: As Israeli settlement activity continues, US Secretary of State James A. Baker says it is “high time” for serious Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and urges Israel to “lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel.” In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, America’s leading pro-Israel lobbying group, Baker says: “Forswear annexation. Stop settlement activity. Allow schools to reopen. Reach out to Palestinians as neighbors who deserve political rights.”
May: With President George H.W. Bush pushing for new Middle East peace talks in Madrid, Israel asks the US administration for a $10 billion loan guarantee, to help settle a wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Bush and Secretary of State Baker label the rapid construction of settlements an obstacle to peace and resist approving the guarantee. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and US supporters push the US Congress to go around the White House and approve it. But Bush publicly denounces the tactic and insists that Shamir pledge not to use any of the money on settlements. Shamir initially refuses, but backs down after Bush threatens to block congressional action. His failed battle puts new pressure on him to support a new Madrid peace conference.
Nov.1: Meeting in Madrid, Israel, the Palestinians and several Arab nations agree to begin fresh peace negotiations on multiple tracks, but the talks go nowhere.
June 23: Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor Party wins Israeli parliamentary elections. Rabin becomes prime minister and signals a willingness to address Palestinian concerns, leading to the start of secret Israeli talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Sept.13: Following face-to-face secret negotiations in Oslo, Israel and the PLO sign a declaration of principles calling for “permanent status negotiations” intended to end in a comprehensive Middle East peace deal within five years. This first Oslo Accord also calls for Palestinian self-government in the West Bank and Gaza to replace Israeli military rule while the negotiations go on. But the self-government is only partial and the settlements are shielded from Palestinian control. The ultimate status of the West Bank and Gaza settlements is left open, to be determined by the talks.
May 4: Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat sign a follow-up agreement to the 1993 Oslo Accord, meant to formally mark Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area of the West Bank and a transition to Palestinian self-government after 27 years of occupation. But Israel is to remain responsible for Israeli settlements and overall security in the area. Self-government is only partial.
Nov. 4: Rabin is assassinated.
Aug. 2: Under new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in office since May 1996, the Israeli cabinet lifts restrictions on West Bank and Gaza settlement building, imposed four years earlier in deference to the peace process. Netanyahu’s governing coalition rejects Palestinian statehood and embraces settlement expansion.
July 25: At Camp David peace talks hosted by President Bill Clinton, Palestinian negotiators seek full sovereignty over all of the West Bank and Gaza, while Israel offers a Palestinian state initially occupying about three-quarters of the West Bank and all of Gaza. The two sides fail to reach agreement, with differences over borders and Jerusalem among the chief obstacles. A wave of fierce Middle East violence breaks out, dubbed the Second Intifada, after the talks’ failure and after Ariel Sharon, a candidate for Israeli prime minister, pays a provocative visit to the Temple Mount, a religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
April 30: An international fact-finding committee led by former US Senator George Mitchell publishes the findings of its inquiry into the causes of the Second Intifada. The committee calls for an immediate cessation of violence on both sides, the resumption of peace talks and a freeze on all Israeli settlement activity. Israel rejects a settlement freeze.
March 12: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a speech to the Security Council, urges both Israel and the Palestinians to take urgent steps to end the continuing crisis. To Israel he says: “You have the right to live in peace and security within secure internationally recognized borders. But you must end the illegal occupation.” Annan also urges Israel to end military attacks in civilian areas and calls on the Palestinians to end suicide bombings and rocket attacks. Following his remarks, the council for the first time embraces a “two-state solution” to the conflict by adopting Resolution 1397 affirming “a vision of a region where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.”
March 27-28: The Arab League, at a summit in Lebanon, adopts a Middle East peace plan proposed by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It calls for Israel’s “acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
April 4: President George W. Bush, in a speech on the Middle East, says settlement activity must cease. “Consistent with the Mitchell plan, Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories must stop, and the occupation must end through withdrawal to secure and recognized boundaries, consistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.”
April 10: Top officials of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States gather in Madrid for talks on the Middle East and afterward issue a statement urging “an end to all settlement activity.” The international mediators, calling themselves the Quartet, meet at the invitation of Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique. Attending are UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, European Union foreign affairs representative Javier Solana and US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. The Quartet’s statement is endorsed later the same day by the UN Security Council.
May 2: At a meeting of the Quartet in Washington, Secretary Powell states: “There will have to be a cessation of new settlements, and something will have to be done about the settlements that were done, that are there now. And that has always been part of the various negotiating efforts that have been underway.”
July 16: Following a meeting in New York, the Quartet says in a statement that, in line with the Mitchell Committee’s recommendations, “Israel should stop all new settlement activity.”
Sept. 17: The Quartet, after meeting in New York, announces plans to create a “Road Map” leading to a Middle East peace accord based on the two-state solution. A Quartet statement adds: “Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.”
Dec. 20: Following a meeting in which Washington is represented by President George W. Bush, the Quartet in a joint statement says, “Israeli settlement activity must stop.”
April 30: The Quartet releases its “performance-based Road Map” intended to lead to a peace accord within three years. As part of the plan’s first phase, Israel “immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001 [and] freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).” March 2001 marks the first full month in power of new Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who presides over a period of rapid settlement growth.
May 13: Sharon, in an interview, rules out restraining settlement growth at this time. “In my mind this is not an issue on the horizon right now,” he says. Israel expresses 14 reservations about the Road Map while Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas accepts it and rejects the Israeli reservations.
June 23: The Quartet, in a statement, “recalls its position that settlement activity must stop.”
Sept. 26: The Quartet reaffirms that, “in accordance with the Road Map, settlement activity must stop … .”
Nov. 19: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1515 endorsing the Road Map.
Dec.18: Sharon announces a plan for Israeli disengagement from Gaza and a dismantling of all Gaza settlements but reaffirms Israel’s intent to hang onto settlements elsewhere. “Settlements which will be relocated are those which will not be included in the territory of the State of Israel in the framework of any possible future permanent agreement. At the same time, in the framework of the Disengagement Plan, Israel will strengthen its control over those same areas in the Land of Israel which will constitute an inseparable part of the State of Israel in any future agreement.”
April 14: Bush tells a White House news conference that Israel can expect to hang onto some its largest settlements in any peace deal, undermining a longstanding international and US understanding that borders and other details of a deal can be decided only through negotiations between Israel and Palestinians. “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to” the pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank,” Bush says.
May 4: A Quartet statement issued after a meeting in New York says: “We welcome the Israeli government’s recent reaffirmation of its readiness to implement certain obligations under the Road Map, including progress towards a freeze on settlement activity.” The statement says Sharon’s announced intention to dismantle settlements in all of Gaza and parts of the West Bank could provide “a rare moment of opportunity in the search for peace in the Middle East.”
Sept. 22: A Quartet statement “urges the Government of Israel to implement its obligations under the Road Map, including dismantling of settlement outposts erected since March 2001, and to impose a settlement freeze, as called for by President Bush and in the Road Map. The lack of action in this regard is a cause for concern.”
March 1: A Quartet statement “commends the Israeli cabinet’s recent approval of the initiative to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, and reiterates that withdrawal from Gaza should be full and complete and should be undertaken in a manner consistent with the Road Map, as an important step toward the realization of the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” The statement adds, “Quartet members agree on the need to ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, including with contiguous territory in the West Bank. A state of scattered territories will not work.”
May 26: Bush, in the White House Rose Garden, says Israel “must remove unauthorized outposts and stop settlement expansion. The barrier being erected by Israel as a part of its security effort must be a security, rather than political, barrier. . . . A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.”
June 23: In a joint statement on the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Quartet “reaffirms that the two-state vision and the Road Map are the best way to achieve a permanent peace and an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The Quartet expresses its concern over settlement activity.”
June 26: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tells Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom that Washington “cannot sanction creating a new reality on the ground by [settlement] actions that continue today.” She adds: “We want very much to support Israel in this critical period, and we recognize the sensitivity of the situation, but it is impossible to sanction the continuation of construction and its influence on the final border.”
Aug.15-22: Israel carries out its withdrawal from Gaza of about 9,000 settlers, some of whom put up fierce resistance. All the homes and buildings left behind are bulldozed before they can be returned to Palestinian control.
Sept. 20: Quartet foreign ministers meet at UN headquarters and issue a statement welcoming completion of the Gaza withdrawal. At a news conference, Rice says Bush “has been very clear that we do not expect Israel to engage in activities that will prejudge a final status, because questions about the final border are indeed final status issues. We have been clear that activity in the settlements … has an effect on Palestinian livelihood, that the international community expects Israel to live up to its Road Map obligations and to its obligations not to engage in that activity.”
Jan. 30: A Quartet joint statement reiterates “that settlement expansion must stop” and notes acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent statements that Israel will continue removing unauthorized outposts.
May 9: Following a Quartet meeting in New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan states that while Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza marks the first return of territory to the Palestinians since the 1967 war, it ignores numerous UN pleas that Israel coordinate the pullout with the Palestinians and the international community. “We are also clear that the final borders will have to be negotiated, regardless of how withdrawal takes place,” Annan tells a news conference. The Quartet, in a statement, says it “expressed its concern about settlement expansion. . . . The Quartet reiterated the importance of both parties avoiding unilateral measures, which prejudice final status issues.”
May 30: Quartet foreign ministers hail an Arab League initiative to revive Middle East peace efforts. A joint Quartet statement encourages Israel to address concerns raised by the Arab League in April, “including a cessation of settlement expansion and the removal of illegal outposts, as called for in the Road Map.”
July 20: A Quartet joint statement encourages Israelis and Palestinians to meet their Road Map obligations, including, for Israel, “an end to settlement expansion and the removal of unauthorized outposts.”
Dec. 18: A Quarter joint statement expresses concern that newly announced Israeli settlement expansion plans could undermine peace talks begun a month earlier in Annapolis, Maryland. “The Quartet called on both parties to make progress on their Phase One Road Map obligations, including an Israeli freeze on settlements, removal of unauthorized outposts and opening of East Jerusalem institutions, and Palestinian steps to end violence, terrorism and incitement.”
May 2: A Quartet statement issued as Israeli-Palestinian talks continue urges both sides to “refrain from any steps that undermine confidence or could prejudice the outcome of negotiations. In this context, the Quartet expressed its deep concern at continuing settlement activity and called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001.”
June 24: A Quartet statement reiterates “its deep concern at continuing settlement activity and called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001.”
Sept. 14: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tells the Israeli cabinet that due to rapid growth of the Arab population in the West Bank, Israel will soon end up a single bi-national nation, ending the possibility of a two-state solution. “I used to believe that everything from the Jordan River bank to the Mediterranean Sea was ours. After all, dig anywhere and you’ll find Jewish history. But eventually, after great internal conflict, I’ve realized we have to share this land with the people who dwell here – that is if we don’t want to be a binational state.”
Sept. 26: A Quartet joint statement expresses “deep concern about increasing settlement activity, which has a damaging impact on the negotiating environment and is an impediment to economic recovery.” It urges Israel to “freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001.”
Nov. 9: Representatives of the Quartet meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for a briefing on the ongoing peace talks from Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. A Quartet statement says the two reaffirm their commitment to a two-state solution through implementation of the Road Map.
Dec. 15: A Quartet statement reiterates support for the ongoing negotiations, calls on the Palestinians to continue efforts to reform the security services and end terrorism and urges Israel “to freeze all settlement activities, which have a negative impact on the negotiating environment and on Palestinian economic recovery, and to address the growing threat of settler extremism.” Days afterward, enraged by a wave of cross-border Palestinian rocket attacks, Israel launches a fierce 22-day military offensive in Gaza. The Palestinians suspend the peace talks.
May 18: US President Barack Obama says during a news conference with Netanyahu, who has recently begun his second term as prime minister, that “settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. That’s a difficult issue. I recognize that, but it’s an important one and it has to be addressed.” Later in a speech in Cairo on June 4, he states that Washington “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. … It is time for these settlements to stop.”
June 26: A Quartet statement urges Israel “to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth; to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem, including home demolition and evictions.”
Sept. 24: The Quartet calls for the resumption of peace negotiations and “urges the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth; and to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem.” The meeting follows a Palestinian refusal to enter new peace talks after Israel rejects its demand to first freeze settlements.
Nov. 25: Netanyahu announces a 10-month moratorium on new residential construction in West Bank settlements as part of an initiative to renew the stalled peace talks.
Jan. 24: Netanyahu announces that some West Bank settlements would forever remain a part of Israel. “Our message is clear,” he tells a tree-planting ceremony in a bloc of settlements just south of Jerusalem. “We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity.”
March 9: With US Vice President Joseph Biden visiting Israel as an announcement nears of the start of a new round of peace talks, Israeli officials disclose plans to build 1,600 new settler homes in a part of East Jerusalem that the Palestinians want for their future capital. The Israeli announcement infuriates Biden. “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden is quoted in the media as telling Netanyahu. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.”
March 12: A Quartet statement “condemns Israel’s decision to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. . . . The Quartet reaffirms that unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community.”
March 17: Reacting to US opposition to new Israeli housing units in East Jerusalem, Hagai Ben Artzi, Netanyahu’s brother-in-law, calls Obama an anti-Semite. The Israeli prime minister quickly rejects the comment. Dozens of members of Congress urge Obama to drop the US efforts.
March 19: The Quartet appeals anew to Israel “to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001, and to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem.” Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 war “is not recognized by the international community” and its ultimate status must be determined through negotiations between the parties, the Quartet’s statement adds.
March 22: “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our capital,” Prime Minister Netanyahu says.
May 2: “Israel needs to choose between peace and settlements,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says after an Arab League meeting in Cairo.
Sept. 2: Abbas and Netanyahu begin direct talks at a White House summit with Obama after Israel, while still rejecting a freeze, agrees to unofficially halt public talk of future housing construction in East Jerusalem.
Sept. 26: The 10-month Israeli settlement freeze expires and Netanyahu refuses to extend it. After only three meetings, the talks collapse.
Oct. 15: Israel ends its unofficial halt on planning for new housing construction in East Jerusalem by announcing plans to build 238 new units.
Nov. 8: Israel publishes plans for the construction of an additional 1,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem. The announcement comes days before Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Feb. 18: Fourteen of the Security Council’s 15 members back a resolution put forward by the Palestinian Authority condemning the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied lands. But the resolution is defeated by a US veto. Washington says Israeli-Palestinian differences should be resolved only through direction negotiations between the parties and without Security Council interference. Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, says the veto should not be construed as American support for new Israeli settlements.
May 19: Obama says in a speech at the US State Department that the borders of a future Palestinian state should be based on the borders in place before the Six-Day War, as adjusted by mutually agreed land swaps to take into account West Bank settlements. A day later, Netanyahu meets with Obama and flatly rules out a reliance on the pre-1967 lines, saying this would undermine Israel’s viability.
Sept. 23: A Quartet statement urges a swift start to new peace negotiations on the basis of numerous previous agreements and international documents calling for, among other things, an Israeli settlement freeze.
Sept. 26: Asked about the Quartet statement, Netanyahu rules out a new settlement freeze as a way to convince the Palestinians to agree to new peace talks. “We already gave at the office,” the prime minister tells The Jerusalem Post, referring to the 10- month freeze he initiated in November 2009.
April 11: A Quartet statement expresses “concern about unilateral and provocative actions by either party, including continued settlement activity, which cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations, the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict.”
April 24: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is “deeply troubled” by Israel’s legalization of three unsanctioned West Bank settlements. “The Secretary-General reiterates that all settlement activity is illegal under international law. It runs contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Road Map and repeated Quartet calls for the parties to refrain from provocations,” a UN statement says. A day later, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, says she is “extremely concerned” by the move and calls on Israel to reverse its decision. “Settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution,” she says in an EU statement. A month later, on May 14, European Union foreign ministers issue a statement expressing “deep concern” about continuing settlement construction on Israeli-occupied lands and the destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.
July 29: Direct talks resume between Israel and the Palestinians, capping efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to begin negotiating the outlines of a final peace deal. A Quartet statement the next day “calls on all parties to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of the negotiating process and to refrain from actions that undermine trust.”
March 3: Following talks with Netanyahu in Washington, Obama tells reporters he still believes a two-state solution is possible. “But it’s difficult and it requires compromise on all sides.” Netanyahu responds: “The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace. I mean, we vacated cities in Judea and Samaria. We left entirely Gaza. We’ve not only frozen settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements. We’ve released hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent months. And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel. So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t. Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth. And the people of Israel know that it’s the truth because they’ve been living it.” The direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations begin falling apart soon afterward.
April 8: After the direct talks crash, US Secretary of State John Kerry blames Israel’s announcement of 700 new apartments for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem for the impasse. While Kerry says both sides bear responsibility for unhelpful actions, he singles out Israel’s publication of tenders for housing units four days after a promised but unmet Israeli deadline to release Palestinian prisoners. “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” he tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. US officials, looking back, stress the Palestinian commitment displayed during the failed talks. The Palestinians, they tell Israeli media, secretly agreed during negotiations to a US proposal to give Israel sovereignty over 80 percent of current West Bank settlers. Just 20 percent would have had to withdraw from their West Bank settlements. Israel, in a statement, says it is “deeply disappointed” by Kerry’s “poof” statement and blames the Palestinians for the breakup of the talks.
April 25: Without a peace deal, Israel could become an “apartheid state,” US Secretary of State John Kerry says. “There is a fundamental confrontation and it is over settlements. Fourteen thousand new settlement units announced since we began negotiations. It’s very difficult for any leader to deal under that cloud.” His remarks set off a wave of criticism in Israel and the United States.
June 5: Responding to word that a new Palestinian unity government is backed by the Islamic militant group Hamas, Israel seeks bids for nearly 1,500 new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union and Japan, refers in The New York Times to “the knee-jerk Israeli announcements of settlement construction every time something doesn’t go their way.”