(March 8, 2023 / JNS) Israel last felt the sting of betrayal by its ally, the United States, six years ago in December 2016, when the Obama administration allowed an anti-Israel United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to pass without a routine U.S. veto.
The 2016 resolution stated falsely that Israel’s expansion of settlements represents a “flagrant violation” of international law. It exhorted Israel immediately to cease all settlement activity in the “occupied Palestinian territory,” including eastern Jerusalem.
Now the Biden administration has heaped insult upon injury by actively supporting a new UNSC statement expressing members’ “deep concern and dismay” over Israel’s recent announcement regarding the construction of more homes in “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It also reaffirmed its “unwavering commitment” to a “two-state solution,” claiming that Israeli settlement activity endangers its viability.
While such U.N. resolutions are not legally binding, they are certainly intended to cast an aura of pariah status over the Jewish state. More importantly, these resolutions reflect a profound misreading of the desires of both Israeli and Palestinian publics. Thus, these mandates are also condescending to both parties—assuming the U.S. patriarch knows better than the Middle East children.
Indeed, despite the UNSC’s—and the United States’—attempt to dictate Israel’s and the Palestinians’ joint destiny, neither side supports a two-state solution. A 2022 poll shows that only 33% of Palestinians and 37% of Israeli Jews prefer two states.
What’s more, both U.N. resolutions couch their condemnations and distress in terms most Israelis—from the left to the right—would find invalid at best, and perverse at worst.
Few Israelis, for example, consider the Jewish homeland of Judea and Samaria (aka, the West Bank) to be “Palestinian territory.” Such ownership, for many legal scholars, is not supported by international law, nor has Palestinian possession ever been adjudicated or supported by a treaty.
In fact, the very purpose of many failed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the last 55 years has been to determine borders of a future Palestinian entity. Israel, supported by the United States, has made a handful of generous offers of land to the Palestinians, every one of which their leadership perfunctorily refused.
In other words, there’s zero evidence the Palestinians are interested in two states. They’ve never accepted Israel’s peace overtures, and no Palestinian leaders either say or do anything to promote peace with Israel under any terms. Rather, all evidence suggests the only terms acceptable to either Hamas or Palestinian Authority dictatorships…would be Israel’s utter destruction.
Therefore, we should forgive Israel for not greeting the U.N.’s pre-emptive declaration of “Palestinian territories” warmly. No surprise that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the UNSC action as “one-sided,” saying, “The statement should never have been made, and the United States should never have joined it.”
While we’re at it, we should also remind the UNSC that Israel is not an occupying power, and that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria do not violate international law.
According to George Mason University law professor Eugene Kontorovich, “Under international law, occupation takes place when a country takes over the sovereign territory of another country. But the West Bank was never part of Jordan, which seized it in 1949 and ethnically cleansed its entire Jewish population. Nor was it ever the site of an Arab Palestinian state.”
While the Geneva Convention prohibits forcible transfer of populations into a conquered land, this, too, applies only to sovereign territory.
Though Jordan’s occupation was viewed as illegal, Israel turned back Jordan’s attempted invasion in 1967 and evicted them. Israel and Jordan signed an unconditional peace treaty in 1994. By international law, Israel has superior claim to that territory over all others.
Finally, Israel has never forced Jews to settle in their ancient homeland—all immigration has been organized and motivated by those Jews independently. In short, for many reasons, the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply.
While Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State in the Trump administration, affirmed this reading of the law, the Biden administration and its State Department choose to disregard it.
Indeed, just as Team Biden spent its first two years obsessively trying to make a nuclear deal with Iran’s ayatollahs—who did not want a deal—it is similarly fixated on preserving for the Palestinians the remote possibility of a two-state solution, whose leaders also do not want it.
The larger issue here for both the United States and Israel is the value of their relationship. Israel is arguably the single most consistent supporter of U.S. positions in global forums, and it is one of America’s militarily mightiest allies, protecting U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Deservedly, the U.S. and Israel cooperate on many diplomatic and military issues—and the U.S. remains Israel’s most steadfast financial supporter. But the current administration also consistently takes actions that undermine Israel’s interests.
Israel opposed both the failed Obama Iran deal and Biden’s futile effort to resuscitate it. Israel also opposes forcing a two-state solution with Palestinians who violently demonstrate that they reject peace. Yet Team Biden has pushed forward aggressively on both fronts.
Emblematic of this focus on dead-end issues—at Israel’s expense—U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides confessed recently that he spends 60% of his efforts helping the Palestinians.
The U.S. ambassador to Israel spends most of his time helping the Palestinians? These are the people killing Israelis daily and rewarding the terrorists with lifetime salaries, subsidized by American taxpayer dollars. These are the people whose schools teach children to hate Jews and become martyrs by murdering them. What is Nides helping the Palestinians do?
In fact, the Palestinians consistently refuse to cooperate with American diplomacy, whether it be President Obama’s efforts at peace negotiations or President Trump’s offer to them of $50 billion in aid. Palestinians cheer in the streets after their murder of Israeli and American citizens. Palestinian dictators are famously corrupt and deprive their citizens of even the most basic civil rights. Above all, they wage war instead of peace.
In short, U.S. financial and political support of the Palestinians’ war against Israel is shameful. Israel remains one of the world’s strongest democracies, and it operates scrupulously within the bounds of international law. It also is one of America’s truest friends. It deserves a full-time ambassador who loves Israel…and it deserves the United States’ wholehearted support in the United Nations.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.
Jewish News Syndicate
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