Well, needless to say, this is an issue where I respectfully disagree with President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice. The fact is, the settlements are illegal and the Palestinians should have the right to request some accountability, even if only symbolic. The illegal expansion has been going on for decades and there is a reason for that.
The U.S. argument that the resolution, which basically is a reiteration of US policy, “hurts” the peace process is just another excuse out of many to provide cover for Israel’s intransigence. Perhaps one of the reasons Israel continues building illegal settlements despite our “concern” is because it knows it will never have to be held accountable in any meaningful way?
Another interesting thing is that while the US and the world have long held that the settlements beyond the ’67 borders are illegal, for the last 10 years or so the U.S. has shied away from using the word “illegal” when discussing them. Instead, they use words like “unhelpful,” “unfortunate,” “obstacles.” Words have meaning and if the U.S. position on settlements has really changed (they continually claim it hasn’t) then they need to come out and say that the U.S. no longer deems them illegal. But the government won’t do that because we want to have our cake and eat it too- we want to claim we oppose the settlements ((because we know under international law they clearly are illegal)) all the while enabling their continuation due to political pressure here at home.
The United States on Friday voted against a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as illegal. The veto by the U.S., a permanent council member, prevented the resolution from being adopted.
The other 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the draft resolution. But the U.S., as one of five permanent council members with the power to block any action by the Security Council, struck it down.
The resolution had nearly 120 co-sponsors, exclusively Arab and other non-aligned nations.
The Obama administration’s veto is certain to anger Arab countries and Palestinian supporters around the world.
The U.S. opposes new Israeli settlements but says taking the issue to the UN will only complicate efforts to resume stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on a two-state solution.
Palestinians say continued settlement building flouts the internationally-backed peace plan that will permit them to create a viable, contiguous state on the land after a treaty with Israel to end its occupation and 62 years of conflict.
As usual, we are the only member blocking the resolution from passing.
This is a great message to be sending to the Arab world right about now.
I’m just wondering, what rights, exactly, do the Palestinians have? They don’t have the right to peaceful assembly or protest, they don’t have any legal protections when Israel’s security service takes their children into custody, holding them for weeks in an undisclosed location for “interrogation” (some as young as 10) to deter their Palestinian parents from protesting the Occupation, they certainly don’t have the right to self defense and they don’t have the right to have their concerns addressed in any international forum because it is always labeled as “unhelpful” or “anti-Israel” or an attempt to “delegitimize.”
Also, at this stage, the idea that the resolution hurts the peace process is preposterous. What hurts the peace process is illegal settlements expanding every day in order to change the facts on the ground in Israel’s favor. What hurts the peace process is the understandable belief on the part of the Palestinian people and the Arab world, that the U.S. is incapable of being an honest broker in this process.
I don’t know if these reports are true, but some are saying Obama threatened consequences/repercussions for the Palestinian Authority if they went through with bringing the resolution to the Security Council. So, let me get this straight- Israel building illegal settlements = no consequences from the U.S. but the Palestinians drafting a resolution condemning illegal settlements = major consequences from the U.S.? That’s fair.
And remember, this isn’t some abstract concept that is only about land. More often then not, when settlements go up, it means that the Palestinians living on the land have to be forcibly removed, their homes bulldozed and they are rendered homeless. Sometimes the MSM forgets to mention that when they discuss the settlement issue. When people’s homes are bulldozed, their personal effects destroyed and they are publicly humiliated, it creates an environment that is ripe for extremism, which certainly isn’t good for Israel’s security. It’s interesting how when we talk about our commitment to Israel’s security we don’t talk about these most basic things.
This is a human rights issue.
UPDATE: During a conference call yesterday this is what Ambassador Rice said about the legality of the settlements:
…the United States has not characterized settlement activity as illegal since, I believe, 1980…
Well then, the two state solution is dead. Sorry Palestinians, international law doesn’t apply to you.
So according to the U.S., international law should be selectively interpreted and applied based on domestic politics, at different points of time. The settlements were illegal prior to 1980 then they suddenly became illegal after 1980? I’m sure that has nothing to do with lobbying from AIPAC etc. right? As we saw at the Security Council, the entire world, except the U.S. and Israel (and maybe Kyrzygstan) believe the settlements are in fact illegal. So once again, the US and Israel stand alone in our selective interpretation of international law. No wonder Israel keeps building settlements, the only nation that matters to Israel (the U.S.) is saying Israel has no legal obligation to stop building them. And if the settlements are NOT illegal under international law, then in effect there is no de jure occupation, because the occupation is based on international law and the 1967 boundaries. But the US is essentially saying that we don’t recognize that and as a result, that means that Israel has every right to be building in East Jerusalem because, hey, there’s no occupation and settlements are legal! If that’s the case, then the U.S. is also saying that any Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem are invalid and the only way they will get even an inch of East Jerusalem (and they likely won’t get even that) is if the Israelis feel like “giving” them some of their legal land.
See where this is going? Read in this light, it all makes sense now. The Palestine Papers fill in the gaps- Despite alleged overly-generous concessions from the Palestinians on almost every issue including East Jerusalem, the US and Israel still said “nope, sorry, not enough.” And why? Because the US and Israel have no intention of accepting a plan that includes East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state because, well, those settlements are legal!
UPDATE II: Bibi Netanyahu told Barack Obama he “deeply appreciates” the U.S. veto of the anti-settlement resolution. Well, that makes it all worth it!