Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

The Truth About Settlement Growth

YOU ARE IN: Home Page > Topics > Israel

The current Israeli government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu has often been unfairly accused of expanding settlements at an historically fast rate - often with the implication that this involves not merely constructing within existing settlements, but the establishment of new settlements.

However, during a recent CNN interview, former Israeli Prime Minister and current Defence Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak noted that the all too common perception of an historically high rate of settlement expansion taking place is just wrong - not a single new settlement has been built under the current Netanyahu government.  Further, construction in settlements is actually currently occurring at a slower rate than under previous Israeli governments, he adds.

Barak notes that construction in settlements was actually considerably higher during past periods when there were the most significant efforts to negotiate a two state peace deal - during Barak's own previous government (1999-2001) and the Olmert Government (2006-2009). This illustrates why the Palestinian claim that current construction - which is currently only within the existing boundaries of existing settlements, thus taking no new land, and in any case at comparatively low rates - is the major barrier to peace negotiations makes very little sense, either logically or in terms of historical experience.

Barak noted in the interview that:

"I think that most of the burden for the inability to move in the last three years happens to be on the Palestinians' shoulders, not on ours.

But I can tell you honestly, I was the prime minister 12 years ago. I negotiated a very generous proposals with previous Chairman Arafat, together with President Clinton. It put a far reaching proposals on the table that was rejected by Arafat. And he turned deliberately to terror. And that during that time, we were building four times the pace of construction that Israel executed now. I was the defense minister in Ehud Olmert's government for five years ago when he proposed an extremely generous proposal to Abu Mazen. We were building about twice the pace that we are building now.

So this government of Netanyahu is not the most aggressive in building. We are listening very carefully to the needs of our citizens of, on the one hand, and to the needs of the Palestinian future state, as well as the demands from the world. And we are not going over any hill or valley and establishing new settlements. Not a single new settlement has been built in the last three years since this government is in power."

Most recent items in: Israel