JERUSALEM - Thursday, Israeli police used force to break up large protests in the West Bank amid fears of a new uprising by Palestinians. Violence has grown since Israel gave the go-ahead for more Jewish settlements in the Palestinian section of Jerusalem.
Teargas and stones, running battles between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces are happening daily now in the narrow streets of East Jerusalem. And there's every reason to think it will get worse.
This is a big part of the reason why:
A stone's throw away hundreds of new apartments are being built for Jewish settlers on land that is supposed to be part of any future Palestine.
"They are demolishing the possibility of having an independent sovereign Palestinian State," said Mustapha Barghouti, a leading member of the Palestinian parliament. "The main thing that is blocking any possibility for peace, or any prospect for peace is the continuation of Israeli illegal settlement building."
In peace negotiations the terminology can be complex, the points nuanced, and the rhetoric is more often than not overblown. What's going on here however is summed up in a single phrase: Establishing facts on the ground.
This week Israel announced it would push ahead with another thousand apartments.
"The French build in Paris," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "The English in London. Tell the Jews not to live in Jerusalem? Why?"
And as often happens here,the reply played out on the streets.
In the meantime, Jewish settlers continue to buy up houses in Palestinian neighborhoods. They have to pay well over the market price, but Israeli security is there to protect them.
The settlement expansion has resulted in a crazy quilt of unconnected patches of land that is supposed to make up a future Palestinian state. And as long as construction continues, violence will escalate and the peace efforts will keep crumbling.