Gideon Levy writes:
This weekend, a new member enrolled in Likud – and not just in the ruling party, but in its most hawkish wing. Located somewhere between Tzipi Hotovely and Danny Danon, U.S. President Barack Obama bypassed Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan on the right and weakened their position.
The first veto cast by the United States during Obama’s term, a veto he promised in vain not to use as his predecessors did, was a veto against the chance and promise of change, a veto against hope. This is a veto that is not friendly to Israel; it supports the settlers and the Israeli right, and them alone.
The excuses of the American ambassador to the UN won’t help, and neither will the words of thanks from the Prime Minister’s Office: This is a step that is nothing less than hostile to Israel. America, which Israel depends on more than ever, said yes to settlements. That is the one and only meaning of its decision, and in so doing, it supported the enterprise most damaging to Israel.
Moreover, it did so at a time when winds of change are blowing in the Middle East. A promise of change was heard from America, but instead, it continued with its automatic responses and its blind support of Israel’s settlement building. This is not an America that will be able to change its standing among the peoples of the region. And Israel, an international pariah, once again found itself supported only by America.
This should have disturbed every Israeli. Is that what we are? Alone and condemned? And all for the continuation of that worthless enterprise? Is it really worth the price? To hell with the UN and the whole world is against us?
We can’t wrap ourselves in this hollow iron dome forever. We must open our eyes and understand that if no country, aside from weakening America, supports this caprice of ours, then something fundamental is wrong here.
Israel, which is condemned by the entire world but continues merrily on its way, is a country that is losing its connection to reality. It is also a country that will ultimately find itself left entirely to its fate. That is why America’s decision harmed Israel’s interests: It continued to blind and stupefy Israel into thinking it can go on this way forever.
Jerry Haber writes:
In 1969, the United States voted with the rest of the Security Council to condemn Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and plans to build Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The Security Council “urgently calls once more upon Israel to rescind forthwith all measure taken by it which may tend to change the status of the City of Jerusalem.” And it explicitly mentioned expropriation of land.
Several days earlier, the US ambassador the United Nations had said in a speech to the UN:
The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the 1967 war, like all other areas occupied by Israel, is occupied territory and hence subject to the provisions of international law governing the rights and obligations of an occupying Power. Among the provision 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 law 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 of 12 August 1949 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. I regret to say that the actions by Israel in the occupied portion of Jerusalem present a different picture, one which gives understandable concern that the eventual disposition of East Jerusalem may be prejudiced, and that the private rights and activities of the population are already being affected and altered. (Cited in Separate and Unequal: The Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem, by Amir S. Cheshin, Bil Hutman, and Avi Melamed (Cambridge: Harvard, 1999), pp. 46-7.
I should point out that this statement was made before a single Jewish settlement had been built outside of Jerusalem. The censure was in reaction to Israel construction of Jewish settlements over the Green Line in East Jerusalem – settlements that are now the “neighborhoods” of Ramot Eshkol and Ma’a lot dafna, East Talpiyot and Neveh Ya’akov.
Around 3,000 Palestinians gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday to protest the US veto that nixed a Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements.
The crowd massed in Manara Square, a central traffic circle in the West Bank city, waving banners and shouting slogans against the American administration.
“Obama, you despicable man, we want self-determination!” shouted the demonstrators, many of them members of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party.
While the Palestinians continue to express their anger over the US veto against a UN vote condemning Israel’s settlement construction policy, new details have surfaced regarding the pre-veto discussions. Fatah elements claimed Saturday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened to halt financial aid should the Palestinian Authority not withdraw its draft from the Security Council’s agenda. Nevertheless, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed that the PA will not boycott the US.
A senior Fatah element told the Palestinian news agency Sama that Clinton threatened Abbas on Friday to cancel US aid. According to the source, US President Barack Obama told Abbas on Thursday night that no other American president has promoted the Palestinian issue more vigorously.
The Obama administration — which has yet to find a Bush policy it’s unwilling to promote — is continuing the practice of ideological exclusion (a Soviet-style policy of excluding political critics from entering the US). Omar Barghouti, author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, has been refused a visa for his upcoming speaking tour. He writes:
Ms. Clinton can sing the tunes of freedom all she wants when watching the news of Arab popular revolts from Morocco to Bahrain, but she is not fooling any average-intelligence person in the Arab world. US policy, especially after the veto cast yesterday against the most benign UN Security Council resolution, simply reiterating universal, long-held facts that Israel’s colonial settlements are illegal and thwart just peace, is being exposed to the new generation of restive, fearless, freedom-aspiring Arab youth as the main cause of their oppression, of buttressing and protecting the tyrants that have denied them all freedoms for decades. It has long been exposed, too, as the key partner of Israel in its occupation, colonialism and apartheid. Without US largess, Israel’s multi-tiered system of racist and colonial oppression cannot possibly survive.