The United States has urged Israel to honour its commitment to end all settlement activities in the West Bank, in response to Israeli plans to construct 600new buildings there.
An aerial view of a Jewish settlement
The plans, which have government approval, would expand what is already the largest Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territories.
Jewish settlements are one of the most contentious issues between Israel and the Palestinian authority. But Israel has always maintained it doesn't have to meet road map obligations until the Palestinian authority cracks down on militant groups.
Should Israel freeze all settlement building activity? Can the US do something to end Israel settlement? Should the US interfere at all? Would the new constructions have an effect in the peace process? Send us your views.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
As an American mission worker here in Jerusalem I watch every day as the existing settlements grow or new ones are begin erected while the rest of the world "deliberates." According to international law they are all illegal. There should be no discussion as to which ones should remain and which should be allowed to expand for "natural growth." Either tear them all down or allow the Jews to live in them under a democratic Palestinian country with self determination. They are all illegal. What's the discussion for?
J. Lahr Lewis, Jerusalem
To those who argue to legitimize that "the land is won by fighting", you're trying to tell us that any land can be annexed by just having a better force. Where is the rule of LAW?
Should Israel end settlement activities? The question is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, I know how to solve the Israel-Palestine problem. The USA should annex all the occupied territories. This way, everybody wins. Mr Bush's Christian lobby gets easy and safe access to Christianity's holiest sites. Israel gets a friendly neighbour.
With America right next door, Israel will no longer have to worry about Arab states bent on destroying it. Palestinians get American citizenship and protection from being shot and bombed by the Israeli army. Israelis stop worrying about terrorist bombs, because the USA will ship all troublemakers to Cuba.
Mike Lee, Batu Caves, Malaysia
If the Israelis want to live in Palestine they should make peace with the Palestinians. Now when they are strong and have full US backing they can build settlements and grab more land and get away with it. But when the Arabs become stronger, both in numbers and arms, what will the Israelis do? We do not want another holocaust!
Nabil Kanafani, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Every country has the right to defend itself. It should also be the responsibility of other nations to guarantee the survival of a legitimate state/country. If these requirements are met, Israel should stop aggravating the situation forthwith. The alternative is just not worth it!
Martin, Ceara, Brazil
I think that this is a necessary security measure to combat the Palestinian terror campaign. Therefore it is justified, just like everything else Israel does. (Note: Yes, I am being very sarcastic.)
Eric Johnson, New York, NY
Israel has occupied the West Bank & Gaza for 30 years. I believe it is time to decide whether there will be one country or two. If there is to be one nation then everyone should have a right to vote. If there are going to be two nations then Israel has no right to settle Israeli citizens on the land of another country. Again, Israel has had 30 years to make up it's mind on this subject and that's long enough.
Arnold Bracy, Lapeer, MI, USA
I'm touched by the concern so many people here seem to have for "international law". Funny, though, I doubt these same people were talking about "international law" when arab nations attacked Israel several times without provocation. The land was won by Israel in these defensive wars. It is up to Israel to decide what gets done with it, not the useless UN or the anti-Semitic EU/Arab states.
Jeremy, Regina, Canada
Israel MUST continue building the Jewish settlement, stopping their building plans will only increase the possibilities of terrorism.
The genocide against the Palestinian people will continue unless and until the international community demands that Israel withdraw from the West Bank.
Jon Davis, USA
The argument that this is 'Arab land' and that Jews have no right to be living there, can and is applied to the whole of Israel. Giving in to this point of view would spell the end for Israel, and so Israel is quite right to go ahead with settlement activity anywhere in the land. The West Bank was annexed by Jordan after the 1948 war. Annexed from who?
Peter Derbyshire, Derby,UK
We shouldn't forget the role of USA and UK in middle-east conflict, because these two countries have always been backing the illegal actions of Israel with closed eyes. I would be so happy to hear someday that Israel has been targeted with nuclear weapons, to end the conflict.
Farasat Zaman, Haripur-Pakistan
I'm 24 now and I don't expect to see peace in there in my lifetime. Both sides are crazy enough to fight to the last man/woman/child and without MUCH stronger UN things will not change at all. US supports Israel in everything blocking every UN efforts or peace keeping missions and Arab countries will never stop hating Israel because they are like US.. they just have to have an enemy, always. It's hopeless so it seems but I hope I'm wrong in this one.
Rami, Kotka, Finland
No they shouldn't stop. Until the dispersion of the Jews in AD70 by the Romans, the area referred to as the West Bank was known as Judea and Samaria and was land which belonged to the Jews. Their land was won back from Jordan in the 1967 war and it is the Palestinians who are the occupiers and it is their occupation that should end.
Chips Palmer, Leicester, England
Israel will obviously do whatever is to its advantage, whatever the cost to the USA. Sharon will do whatever is to his advantage, whatever the cost to Israel. I just wish that Israel and Sharon would pursue their ambitions without recourse to my (US tax) money!
John Klein, Honolulu, USA
If the Israelis are serious about peace, I cannot understand why they would even bring up the thought of expanding settlement activities. What a slap in the face to every country trying to resolve the conflict.
Dave Richmond, Michigan, USA
That depends on what Israel wants, doesn't it? I for one am curious; their political decisions of late appear to have been muddle-headed, to say the least.
Petteri, Helsinki, Finland
Again the Israelis are giving proof that they are against the international law that considers the West Bank to be occupied territories. Building new settlements or expanding the present ones is illegal and should be stopped directly.
Ismail Asy, Sinaw, Oman
It will be very difficult for Israel to claim they are following the road map if they go through with this large expansion. This has nothing to do with their security and the US cannot look the other way.
Todd, Virginia, USA
The simple answer is yes. For many years Israel has continued to build and maintain its settlements that are illegal under international law. This is a major thaw when it comes to its relations with the Palestinians. Israel needs to stop this and realise that it is not above international law. As long as it continues to support these settlements or as it has announced create more its relations with the Palestinians and the greater Arab world will deteriorate. The US also has a part to play in this. It needs to yield more influence then it is currently doing. This is because it is only the US that can influence Israel as it does not seem to care about the views of the rest of the world. The threat to stop the billions in aid it receives should do the trick.
Arif Zaman, Luton, United Kingdom
US can pressure, but cannot make Israelis abandon their homes in Judea and Samaria, which are historically a Jewish land. Israel is a democracy, and the settlers vote too. Sharon knows it well!
Mirek, Alexandria, VA, USA
Not only should Israel end all settlement activities; but, it should also withdraw from all occupied territories as laid down in international law.
I think not. Let's face it. The so called road map is long dead. And peace is not going to happen in the lifetime of anyone reading this message. Israel should do whatever necessary to strengthen its hand in future negotiations with Arabs. Israel also needs more land to deal with a growing population. Arabs control far more land than Israel. These settlements take less than 1/1000 of one per cent of Arab controlled land. Why not let the people who were promised by the God of the Old Testament have the land that was promised to them by the almighty?
Steven, Boston, USA
It doesn't matter what we think. America could end much of the Middle Eastern instability by stopping Israelis walking over Palestinians and their land. But that would not suit the US's purposes, since the more unstable the Middle East is, the easier it is to control Arab governments by promising to end the instability. And so it continues.
Of course they should abandon all settlements. If Mexicans crossed our border and started to build houses, how long do you think they'd last? The Israelis are stealing MORE land. They need to stay in their own stolen country, stop stealing more land, and STOP using the bible as, "proof" the land is theirs in the first place.
Brian Clark Jr, New York City U.S.A.
An overwhelmingly one-sided question; why not to ask "did Palestinians honoured their commitment to stop terror due to the internationally-backed Road Map", the answer is simple "no". Home-made rockets land in Israel daily and terror is flourishing in the aegis of the Palestinian Authority. Until Palestinian show any real sign of good faith, why to require it from Israelis?
Uri D , Tel Aviv, Israel
Israel won the wars fought over that land (Gaza, Golan, and West Bank), it is theirs to do with as they please. The Arab states that lost those wars over that land are responsible for caring for the Arab people who lost their land to the Israelis in those wars. Israel should hoist the Blue Star throughout Gaza, Golan, and West Bank, and eject every hostile who will not salute it. Every ounce of pressure to do less than this is a joining with the Arab states in seeking to destroy Israel, most particularly, all pressure for Israeli concessions without first eradication of Arab militants, is perpetuating the war plan of the Arab states.
Brian Brunner, Reading, USA
As part of the road map the Palestinians should dismantle the terrorist groups and Israel should stop settlement activity, As long as the Palestinians do absolutely nothing to comply with the road map Israel is free to do whatever is in its best interest
Michael, New York, USA
Of course they should stop building on stolen land, but the US will just give them a small slap on the wrist and then look the other way. When was the last time the US really did anything to curtail Israel's actions?
Trygve Inda, Prague, Czech Republic
I think a significant halt in settlement activity will obviously be helpful. To continue cannot be anything but provocative. It is of course a political act as much as a practical one. Israel is seeking to play two games at the same time, both containing a problem and looking to expand. This method will be fraught with difficulty for the future.
Chris C, London, UK
I'm a big supporter of Israel and its right to defend itself, both with the wall and with the army. In this case, though, I have to disagree; you can't pull out of Gaza and at the same time increase settlements in the West Bank. You can't give more fuel to the Palestinians' and Arabs' propaganda, they already have plenty of it.
Andrea Baucero, Milano, Italy
These are not "Palestinian territories". These are territories won from Jordan in a war that resulted from Arab attempts to destroy Israel.
I believe that Israel has to stop all settlement activity. Even though the US had asked Israel to freeze the activities, it doesn't mean that they will enforce that. The US and Israel had always been allies, and there is a saying that goes "talk is cheap".
Hani, OH, USA
Israel should honour its commitments and dismantle illegal settlements. Only a show of good faith on both sides will end the cycle of violence and bring both sides back to the negotiating table.
Robin Miller, Leatherhead, UK
Israel should continue to build settlements and encourage Jews from all over the world who feel oppressed such as those in Russia or France to emigrate. This land has been paid for with Israeli blood. Starting wars to annihilate Israel and losing has consequences. Had the Arabs not fought four such wars, all of that land would be theirs today, many dead Israelis would still be alive, and the region would be peaceful and prosperous. It was their choice, not Israel's.