Tu Bishvat, a holiday in which Israelis cherish the fruit of the land and plant trees, begins this Friday evening. But in the West Bank, extremist settlers have made it a national sport to destroy olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers. And when the settlers need a new bypass road, it is the government of Israel which uproots Palestinian-owned olive trees by the hundreds, as is happening these days near the West Bank town of Qalqilya – just to make more room for settlements and allow the settlers easy access to Israel.
In his meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump will have a valuable opportunity to assert long-held US policy on the settlements in particular and on America’s policy toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That includes recent approvals for constructing more than 5,500 homes in West Bank settlements, Knesset bills to annex large parts of the West Bank to Israel, and bills to retroactively legalize settlement construction that violates Israeli law.