This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been faced with mounting international pressure to answer President Obama’s call to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza. French Prime Minister Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi echoed these concerns when they met with Netanyahu this past week. And today the G8 and the Quartet of the Middle East peace negotiators will meet with the prime minister and insist on a settlement freeze and a renewed effort towards negotiations.
PM Sarkozy told Netanyahu during their meeting at the Elysee Palace, "You must conduct confidence building measures and the first must be the absolute freeze on construction in the settlements." Israeli settlements are illegal and dangerous to the peace-making process between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Israel agreed to stop building settlements in the Oslo Accord in 1993. Yet, since then there has been more than a 100% increase in the number of settlers in Gaza and the West Bank. 58% of the settlement growth occurred in the fourteen years after Oslo. Two-hundred and eighty thousand settlements stand in the way of any possible peace agreements. Until there is a resolution for dealing with this issue, there can be no productive talks about borders, demilitarization, or refugees.