The Israeli government’s announcement that it was green-lighting a hugely controversial new settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank, once which seems primarily intended to foil any future proposal for a Palestinian state, has sparked international outcry.
And not the usual “we’re so disappointed in you” outcry that most Israeli settlement expansions get. The EU is reportedly livid and the Netherlands, usually a reliable supporter of Israel, has cautioned that if the plans aren’t cancelled they won’t be able to back Israel publicly in the future.
Faced with the prospect of opposition to the settlements that actually makes a material difference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to carve out a distinction in policy that Israel doesn’t appear to have ever even bothered to attempt before: arguing that the green-light doesn’t mean construction will necessarily happen.
Netanyahu insists the “green light” only means that planning and zoning for the settlements can move ahead, but that it doesn’t mean construction will. Unless this is Netanyahu’s way of getting out of the announcement without publicly doing so domestically, it seems a distinction without a difference.