The dispossession and displacement of Palestinians on their own land continues unabated as it was reported this week that Israel is advancing plans for building more than 3,000 illegal Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank. Reports reveal that the Civil Administration’s high planning committee gave the final green light to 1,800 homes and initial approval for another 1,344 in the Palestinian territories. International law clearly has no significance in this context as the settler colonial machinery is now unequivocally unapologetic about the oppression it is carrying out. The Housing Minister Zeev Elkin responded to the development by stating that “strengthening Jewish presence (in the West Bank) was essential to the Zionist vision.”

This announcement came a day after the US criticised Israel for its policy of building settlements and expressed concern about the new housing units. However, this performative rebuke stopped short of anything substantial as the State Department spokesman stated that the Biden administration would raise this issue directly with senior Israeli officials during private sessions. We have witnessed this very dynamic play out multiple times in the past, where international actors offer mild criticism while Israel continues to get its way without facing any actual consequences.

For years, the US has officially condemned these settlements but has always shied away from applying any pressure on Tel Aviv to change its behaviour. Many have argued that the US aid to Israel should be made conditional, however politicians in the US come under immense criticism for even tabling this idea. The Biden administration can pretend all it wants about how its policy is different from its predecessor, but the fact remains that it is the chief enabler of this settler colonial project.

This announcement also makes clear that the current ideologically diverse coalition—which ousted Benjamin Netanyahu’s pro-settlement government in June—is not really a “government of change”. The policy of de-facto annexation is in full swing, and the world cannot afford to continue looking the other way anymore.