Within the past year, a multitude of world leaders have expressed or re-expressed their support for a two state solution, including current Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. The UN, since the 1970s, has voiced its support for a two state solution and continues that standpoint today. Any leader, nation, or institution that supports a two state solution, however, should be clear on one thing: the conditions that would make a two-state solution possible are deteriorating, quickly.

The largest contributor to these deteriorating conditions are the settlements, settlers, and outposts in the West Bank. From their beginnings, these entities have been supported by the Israeli government through IDF protection, funding, and logistical planning. The settlers, however, are increasingly becoming a loose cannon, spiraling out of control.

Settlers provide the Israeli military with two things: the provocation of Palestinians and the ability to deny responsibility for such provocation. Although never explicitly stated, it cannot be denied that settlers act in harmony with the IDF. As one former Israeli soldier put it: “It’s not that we soldiers are between a hammer and an anvil, [but rather] we are the hammer being hurled at the Palestinians by the settlers.”[1] It is the Israeli government’s responsibility to stop the violence and land confiscation that causes the deterioration of the two state solution, but instead the government is only acting to bolster it:

Settler violence continues to rise. Solely in 2022, according to ARIJ’s database, there have been 1,035 Israeli settler attacks on civilians, land, and property in the Occupied West Bank. This is already 402 more attacks than last year. These attacks have resulted in the uprooting of 7,548 Palestinians trees this year.

The violence goes unpunished. According to human rights group Yesh Din, out of 111 police investigations into settler attacks in the past five years, only three led to indictments[2].

The settlers are protected by the IDF. For settlements and outposts alike, the IDF provides soldiers, equipment, and 24/7 protection to the communities that illegally confiscate Palestinian land.[3]

The settlers are financially supported with state funds. 44% of settlement municipality budgets come from the Israeli federal budget. Most settlements are considered a “national priority” area, which provides 20-70% subsidy for land development costs.[4] In addition, every year, US nonprofits funnel millions of tax deductible dollars to settlement and outpost communities.[5]

World leaders can no longer claim to support a two state solution without actively working to end the violent settler movement. Any country, leader, or institution who supports a two state solution should:

Call for all outposts erected after 2001 to be dismantled. In 2008, the quartet called for all outposts erected after 2001 to be dismantled, but today there are 220 settler outposts – a number that only continues to grow.

Stop tax deductible dollars in the US from being funneled to Settlers. 501c3s in the US, such as the One Israel Fund, funnel millions of tax deductible dollars to settlers and outposts every year. Activities that are illegal under international law should not be tax deductible.

Give citizenship ultimatums to settlers who hold dual citizenship. If any country considers settlements and outposts to be illegal under international law, it should not allow its own citizens to live in a settlement or an outpost.

Call for the reversal of all military orders for land confiscation through Jurisdiction, industrial zone, firing zone, and nature reserve areas. These orders serve to isolate Palestinians from their own land and from one another through the separation and destruction of Palestinians towns. According to ARIJ’s database, proposed Jurisdiction areas will confiscate 9.6% of the West Bank, proposed industrial zones will take 25,073 dunams (6,195 acres) of land, proposed firing zones will take 938,814 Dunums (231,986 acres) of land, and proposed nature reserves will take 350,720 dunums (86,665 acres) of land.

The settler movement is an entity, supported by the Israeli government, that has spiraled out of control. Violent settlers persistently provoke Palestinians, all the while confiscating large swaths of Palestinian land in the West Bank. This deteriorates the prospects of a two state solution. For this reason, support for a two state solution must be backed up with actions that end the settler movement.

[1] Breaking the Silence, “Where I saw Violence in Hebron?” (Text Testimonies, 2014), https://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/testimonies/database/865640.
[2] Patrick Kingsley, “As Violence Rises in the West Bank, Settler Attacks Raise Alarm,” (New York Times, Feb. 12, 2022), https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/12/world/middleeast/settler-violence-west-bank.html.
[3] Times of Israel, “In Shift, IDF to Station Security Equipment in Illegal Outposts,” (Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2022), https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/in-shift-idf-to-station-security-equipment-in-illegal-outposts/.
[4] Roby Nathanson, “The Economic Burden of West Bank Settlements,” (The Progressive Post, December 11, 2017),  https://progressivepost.eu/economic-burden-west-bank-settlements/.
[5] Elena Hodges, “Hidden in Plain Sight: US Nonprofits as Drivers of Illegal Israeli Settlements,” (Just Security, June 10, 2022), https://www.justsecurity.org/81847/hidden-in-plain-sight-us-nonprofits-as-drivers-of-illegal-israeli-settlements/.