In the hills east of Jerusalem overlooking the city of Jericho and the Jordan Valley stands a religious Jewish settlement whose red-tile roofs, neat gardens and brightly colored playgrounds give the sense of permanence.
Mitzpe Yericho has stood on this escarpment close to the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth – since 1978. It is one of more than 230 settlements Israelis have built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past 50 years.
Diplomats and international monitors are increasingly concerned that the drive may be reaching the point of irreversibility.
If a peace deal were magically struck tomorrow, the Palestinians would expect the Israelis living in Mitzpe Yericho to leave. But its 3,000 residents, nearly all whom are religious nationalists, have no such intention. To them, the settlement enterprise is God-given and irreversible.