The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

West Bank:
Settlements Continue

Oct 30, 2023

This article is translated and excerpted from the October 27, no. 2882 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The West Bank has been part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. Before that, it was attached to Jordan in 1948. The Israelis, victors in 1967, were determined to go beyond occupying the territory, and so pushed for additional settlements. Today, the West Bank has more than 3 million Palestinians and 500,000 Jewish settlers. The West Bank was administered by Israel after 1967 and then came under partial control of the Palestinian Authority with the Oslo Accords of 1993–1995.

With the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three zones. Zone A, less than 20% and mainly urban, is fully entrusted to the Palestinian Authority. Zone B includes old and new refugee camps and is co-managed by the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Finally, almost two-thirds of Zone C is under the jurisdiction of Israel, particularly the settlements.

Yitzhak Rabin, Labor Prime Minister of Israel and a major player in Oslo, engineered this agreement, creating collaboration between the Israeli army and the Palestinian police in the occupied territories. According to him, the transfer of certain tasks to the Palestinian Authority would "relieve—and this is the most important—the Israeli army from having to carry them out itself."

In fact, after 1967, the building of new settlements never stopped. Both legal settlements—from the point of view of the Israeli government—and unregulated outposts are protected by the Israeli army. Financed by public funds, the settlements benefit from significant tax advantages and infrastructure installed by the government.

This progressive absorption of Palestinian territory, to the detriment of those who live and work there, has accelerated under pressure by the right-wing partisans of Greater Israel. Enforcement of settlements has become standard policy for right-wing governments led by the Likud party, especially under the influence of their far-right allies.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to the post of prime minister in 2009 opened the door for the legalization of unregulated settlements. Militant settlers built them with the aim of preventing the territorial continuity that would make a Palestinian state viable. Instead, a veritable policy of apartheid has been put in place, drastically limiting the rights of Arab inhabitants and making it difficult and even dangerous for them to travel daily near the settlements. Haaretz newspaper quoted Netanyahu’s declaration in 2020: "It is we who dictate the security rules throughout the territory. […] They will remain Palestinian subjects."

This policy has only become more accentuated since then. At the end of 2022, the same Netanyahu integrated representatives of the most racist far-right wing into his government to prolong his political career. This has only increased attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank. Since October 7, these attacks by settler commandos have multiplied even more.