Odd Man Out
by Stephen Lendman
It’s America’s accustomed role. It’s longstanding. It lets Israel get away with murder and much more.
Washington’s support permits Israel to commit repeated crimes of war, against humanity, slow-motion genocide, and countless other human and civil rights abuses too grave to ignore.
America stands defiant. Israel’s worst crimes are generously funded and backed. Security Council resolutions condemning Israel are blocked.
Israel spurns various measures passed. Washington’s support assures impunity.
Israel’s lawless settlement construction demands world community action. It’s long past time for measures with teeth to stop it. International law is clear and unambiguous. Israeli settlements are illegal. Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 states:
“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
Israel spurns all international laws with impunity. Moshe Dayan once said, “They don’t like this policy, but we shall do it whether they like it or not.”
Other Israeli officials made similar comments. Current ones have likeminded views. Israel does what it wants regardless of international law, world opinion, and other considerations. Only its own matter.
Settlement construction continues unabated. Thousands of new units were announced. A previous article discussed them.
World condemnation followed. Sanctions, isolation, and/or other meaningful measures with teeth never follow rhetoric. Colonizing Palestine continues unabated.
Washington nominally opposed Israeli settlement construction until February 1981. In April 1980, Jimmy Carter said America’s “position on the settlements is very clear. We do not think they are legal.”
In March 1980, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance told the House Foreign Relations Committee that:
“US Policy toward the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is unequivocal and has long been a matter of public record.”
“We consider it to be contrary to international law and an impediment to the successful conclusion of the Middle East peace process.”
“Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention is, in my judgment, and has been in judgment of each of the legal advisors of the State Department for many, many years, to be…that (settlements) are illegal and that (the Convention) applies to the territories.”
Earlier US administrations concurred. In March 1976, Ford’s UN ambassador, William Scranton, said:
“Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the convention and cannot be considered to have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations between the parties on the locations of the borders of states by the Middle East.”
“Indeed, the presence of these settlements is seen by my government as an obstacle to the success of the negotiations for a just and final peace between Israel and its neighbors.”
In July 1969, Nixon’s permanent UN representative, Charles Yost, said:
“The expropriation or confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance, and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interests in” Jerusalem.
“The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the June war, like other areas occupied by Israel, is governing the rights and obligations of an occupying Power.”
“Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interests, and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property.”
“The pattern of behavior authorized under the Geneva Convention and international law is clear: the occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by the immediate needs of the occupation.”
The Johnson administration expressed similar views. It said nothing should “prejudice the search for” peace.
“By setting up civilian or quasi-civilian outposts in the occupied areas the GOI (government of Israel) adds serious complications to the eventual task of drawing up a peace settlement.”
“Further, the transfer of civilians to occupied areas, whether or not in settlements which are under military control, is contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention.”
Reagan changed US policy. Defying international law he claimed settlements are “not illegal.” They’re merely “ill-advised” and “unnecessarily provocative.”
Future presidents sustained his policy. Legal issues aren’t addressed. Rhetoric substitutes for policy. Israel does what it pleases. It knows it has full US backing.
On February 18, Washington alone vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction.
Resolution language called colonization “illegal.” It denounced settlements as an “obstacle to peace.”
It demanded that “Israel, as the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and that it fully respect its legal obligations in this regard.”
Over 120 UN Member States co-sponsored the measure. It urged all parties to negotiate in good faith for peace.
It called for the “intensification of international and regional diplomatic efforts to support and invigorate the peace process towards achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”
Palestine’s Permanent UN Observer, Riyad Mansosur, said the Security Council failed to “uphold its responsibilities.”
“Our overarching goal remains to bring an end to the Israeli colonization and occupation of our land and its destruction of the two-State solution.”
“We fear, however, that the message sent today may be one that only encourages further Israeli intransigence and impunity.”
Israel’s then UN ambassador Meron Reuben said “the resolution should never have been submitted.”
Rogue states make outrageous claims. With US backing, they’re free to violate international law with impunity. Israel takes full advantage.
On December 19, Washington again expressed support. UN Security Council members met in New York. Unofficial discussions took place. They substituted for condemnation with teeth. No resolution was proposed.
Fourteen members condemned Israel’s latest construction plans separately. They did so outside the Council chamber. Comments followed their monthly Middle East briefing.
Britain’s ambassador Mark Grant read a joint UK/German/French/ Portuguese statement, saying:
“Israel’s announcements that it will accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate.”
“The viability of the two-state solution….is threatened by the systematic expansion of settlements. Settlements are illegal under international law and detrimental to any international efforts to restart peace negotiations and secure a two-state solution.”
Eight Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) members made four separate statements. Breaching international law was stressed. India’s UN ambassador, Hardeep Singh Puri, said:
“Consultations were held amongst (council) members (and) an attempt was made (to see) if” America would agree with others.
“But when we came to the conclusion (it) was not likely to happen,” council members made individual and group statements. Doing so stopped short of voting on a legally binding resolution.
Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor claimed Israeli construction doesn’t obstruct peace. Outrageously he said:
“The planned construction is in neighborhoods that will be part of Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty under any future agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
“It is hypocrisy to call for Palestinian territorial contiguity between Judea and Samaria and Gaza and in the same breath also oppose Jewish territorial contiguity between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.”
“Settlements are not and never have been the main obstacle to peace. The real obstacle to peace is the Palestinians’ demand of return, their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the continued terrorism and incitement against Israel.”
“If the Security Council really wants to contribute to the peace process, it must address these issues.”
Ambassadors are paid to lie for their governments. Prosor does it arrogantly.
On November 14, the Jerusalem Post quoted Likud Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan calling for annexation of Israel’s lawless settlements.
After Palestine’s UN status was upgraded, he called for “immediate annexation” regardless of world opinion. When asked whether Washington would react angrily, he said both governments “don’t always see eye-to-eye” on policies.
Labor party MKs disagree. They criticized Netanyahu’s plan. MK Eitan Cabel spoke for others, saying he’s “continuing to cross red lines, and his hasty decisions are leading us to international isolation and difficult disagreements with our closest allies.”
“Netanyahu’s irresponsible declarations, motivated mainly by a cynical election campaign at the expense of the public, is leading us into a reality that harms the crucial interests of the State of Israel, for one goal: to change the social-economic agenda with threatens how many seats he’ll have in his pocket after the elections.”
A Final Comment
On December 20, Haaretz said constructing a new Jerusalem highway through Beit Safafa divides the village in two. It passes meters from homes.
Quality of life will be seriously compromised. Many residents will be cut off from mosques, schools, and other facilities. Areas accessed easily will be blocked. Lengthy travel will be required to reach them.
Days earlier, attorney Kais Nasser filed an administrative petition to block construction. It accelerated. Plans made years earlier proceed post haste. They include confiscating Palestinian land to facilitate Israeli colonization.
Residents are grievously harmed. They got no chance to object. One spoke for others saying highway construction will be another Separation Wall. “It’s a great injustice.”
Israel calls the highway a major project with “high economic value.” Doublespeak duplicity claims harming Beit Safafa residents helps them. Perhaps dispossessing them entirely will benefit them most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.