Growth & Expansion

By Caroline Kessler

As Tu B’Shivat quickly approaches, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that some settlements will remain a part of Israel. Naturally, the New York Times is covering it here. Isabel Kerschner gives the often needed backstory of which regions Israel is continuing to settle, where they’ve put building freezes, and where they are willing to negotiate.

What struck me throughout this piece was the tree imagery. Netanyahu used the upcoming, tree-hugging holiday of Tu B’shvat to reiterate Israel’s claim on the Etzion bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem. He’s even quoted discussing this during a tree-planting ceremony.

From the article: “Our message is clear,” he said during a tree-planting ceremony there. “We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity.” Netanyahu will also plant saplings in Maale Adumim and Ariel, other settlements that Israel will keep.

The Palestinians refuse to negotiate until all building development is frozen. The juxtaposition of building settlements and planting trees is an interesting one, and I wonder it it’s made to win the hearts of environmentalists or to prove a point to the Palestinian leadership–you can stop inorganic building, but you can’t stop the organic growth of the state.

One last tree metaphor: Netanyahu said that Palestinian leaders had “climbed up a tree” and “they like it up there.”

Perhaps that’s taking things too far…

Caroline Kessler, hailing from the not-so-charmed city of Baltimore, is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University.

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