Springtime in Israel has been marked by instability, from a spate of deadly terrorist attacks to the resignation of Idit Silman from the coalition government and violent clashes in Jerusalem. Yet these developments do not change the fundamental challenges in U.S.-Israel relations: first, the shape of a new Iran nuclear deal, and second, Israel’s West Bank policy, which has largely allowed the hardcore among Jewish settlers to pursue their ideological goals through the construction of settlements, outposts, and neighborhoods outside major blocs.
In this finely detailed Policy Focus—released in tandem with an update to his landmark “Settlements and Solutions” interactive map—Israel expert David Makovsky explains why communities outside the West Bank security barrier constitute a central obstacle to a future two-state solution. In making his case—aided by an assortment of charts and graphics—he explores settlers’ voting patterns, discusses trends in violent activity on both sides, and explains why a quiet U.S.-Israel understanding could help preserve an outcome that advances both American interests and Israeli democracy.
David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute and director of its Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations. He is also an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. During the Obama administration, he worked in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State as a senior advisor to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. He hosts the podcast Decision Points, focused on Israel-Arab-American politics and history, and recently coauthored with Dennis Ross Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny (PublicAffairs). He also wrote the Institute Transition 2021 note Building Bridges for Peace: U.S. Policy Toward Arab States, Palestinians, and Israel.