U.N. Declares Israeli Settlements Illegal

Israeli officials are vowing to build thousands of new settlement homes on occupied Palestinian land, in defiance of a United Nations resolution passed Friday condemning such construction as a, quote, “flagrant violation under international law,” unquote. Jerusalem’s municipal government says it will approve construction of another 600 homes in Jewish-only settlements as part of a project to add another 5,600 housing units in the city’s east, which was captured by Israel in a 1967 war. The plans violate Security Council Resolution 2334, which was approved Friday on a 14-to-0 vote after the U.S. abstained, denying a veto sought by Israel and President-elect Donald Trump.

Yousef Munayyer talking:

It’s not exactly unusual. We have seen tremendous agreement in the international community on the illegality of the Israeli settlement enterprise. And there is a lot of international agreement, of course, that the Fourth Geneva Conventions apply to the territory that Israel occupied after 1967, which make the transfer of civilians into occupied territory illegal in international law. We have seen that fact affirmed in United Nations Security Council resolutions for years since 1967 under various American administrations that either voted for similar resolutions or abstained on similar resolutions. The only president since 1967 who, prior to this week, had not done something like that was actually Barack Obama.

when we say “in the last eight years,” that’s true, because that was Barack Obama’s two terms.

the only veto that President Obama had ever used in the United Nations Security Council was used to protect Israel from a resolution that was criticizing its settlement enterprise. So I think any objective comparative analysis of U.S. presidents since 1967 has to conclude that there has been no president that’s done more to protect Israel before the international community than Barack Obama. And, you know, when you consider the fact that Ronald Reagan allowed 21 different United Nations Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, including criticizing the bombings of Beirut and the siege of Beirut throughout the 1980s, and Barack Obama had various opportunities during the sieges of Gaza and the bombardments of Gaza that took place under his watch to do so and didn’t, you know, these accusations against President Obama somehow being uniquely anti-Israel really raise questions about whether or not those accusations are not about something else that is unique about President Obama.

What you’re seeing right now, and the reason why Samantha Power and the administration have felt the need to defend themselves by citing Ronald Reagan even though this has been long-standing U.S. policy, is because they’re being attacked by the right in an attempt right now—and we’re seeing Netanyahu do this, you know, in very hysterical fashion since the passing of this resolution—to intimidate any future American elected officials from even deviating the slightest bit from the every whim and demand of Israel’s right-wing government. And I think that is what you’re seeing take place today, not simply because they have an issue with the Obama administration, but because they have an issue with U.S. policy, and they don’t want to see the United States ever supporting the idea that there should be pressure on Israel for its illegal settlements.

A very large portion of the United Nations budget comes from the United States. Yeah, look, there is, as I said, an effort right now to really intimidate politicians in the United States from ever deviating from the Benjamin Netanyahu line.

The issue of settlements, you know, this is not controversial. There is an effort now to make this controversial, even though it’s very clear in international law and agreed on in the international community by everyone except for the Israeli right wing that settlements are illegal under international law and are an obstacle to, you know, the vision of an independent, contiguous Palestinian state, which is the stated policy of all of these governments. So, there’s a lot of theater going on now.

But I think, you know, the important thing about all of this, this resolution and so on, is not so much the language about settlements as much as the language about salvaging the two-state solution, the desperation that’s expressed in this text about the two-state solution dying. When you read that and you consider that the incoming administration, the Trump administration, takes a completely different view, takes the Benjamin Netanyahu view, opposes the idea of a Palestinian state, has appointed an ambassador to Israel that opposes the idea of a Palestinian state, supports settlements, literally.

As in he has dedicated his life’s work to funneling money to Israeli settlements through raising charitable contributions in the United States. Like Beit El, precisely. So, you know, you have an ambassador now to Israel that is incapable of delivering the message that settlements are an obstacle, because he, himself, has helped create those obstacles.

there’s something particularly fitting about putting a bankruptcy lawyer in charge of U.S. Middle East policy, isn’t there? You know, it’s very clear, from Donald Trump’s statements, from Donald Trump’s behavior, from the Donald Trump campaign’s effort to change the GOP platform to include the most anti-Palestinian language that we’ve ever seen in a national party platform, that this is an administration that is going to wholeheartedly embrace Israeli apartheid. They are going to give a green light to Israeli settlement expansion. They are going to, as the, you know, appointee for ambassador stated, move the embassy to Jerusalem.

there’s two things that are important to think about in terms of implications. There’s the reaction from the Arab and Muslim world. And there’s reason to think that there is going to be varied reactions in the Arab and Muslim world to that sort of move. But there’s also the very clear message that that sends about U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Jerusalem has always been treated as a separate entity, a separate issue, by U.S. policy. And U.S. policy since 1947 really has been that Jerusalem has a separate status, a unique status, that has to be resolved through negotiations by Israelis and Palestinians. That’s why there’s not even an American embassy in West Jerusalem, let alone East Jerusalem. So, if you have the move of an embassy to Jerusalem, what you are essentially saying is that, you know, bipartisan American policy, for decades, towards the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has just been thrown out the window. And I think, you know, the two-state solution, frankly, has long been dead. They’ve never had a ceremony to bury it. I think if they do move the embassy to Jerusalem, they can have that ceremony when they lay the cornerstone for the embassy in Jerusalem.

Even the slightest bit of criticism of Israeli policy has become a third rail issue in American domestic politics. And, you know, the last thing I would say about this is, you know, if the Israelis want to attach themselves here in the United States not just to the Republican Party, which has been happening for a number of years, but to the Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party, you know, that may be helpful for a couple of years. But in the long term, I think it’s going to send a very clear message to the American people about this notion of shared values between Israel and the United States being quite bogus and being something that most Americans, who believe in values that are not embodied by Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu, will ultimately reject.

Yousef Munayyer
executive director of US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

— source democracynow.org


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