The U. N. Security Council Resolution 2234 condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands reaffirms the obligation of Israel, the occupying power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War…and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on July 9, 2004 by the International Court of Justice, condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.
The White House position is that Washington has always regarded settlements as an impediment to peace and a threat to a two-state solution. President Obama’s abstention on the U.N. resolution, therefore, was consistent and appropriate with US foreign policy regarding Israel’s settlement policy in the Occupied Territories.
The US House of Representatives, in its usual shameless manner, has chosen to side with Israel against Washington’s official policy. Senator John McCain asserted that “Today’s passage of an ill-conceived resolution on Israeli settlements marks another shameful chapter in the bizarre anti-Israeli history of the United Nations.”
Apparently it matters not to Senator McCain that Israel stands in violation of the rule of law and by doing so for close to fifty years, has eroded the force of international law. And while the US Congress shamelessly refuses to recognize the harsh reality of Israel’s unwillingness to conclude a just peace with Palestinians while concurrently stealing their land, the rest of the world is now willing to declare Israel in open violation of international law. Even if our spineless Congressional leaders continue to allow Israel to escape the consequences of its criminal behavior, it will still become a pariah state that lives in increasing social, cultural and economic isolation and Netanyahu’s temper tantrums will most certainly speed up the process.
Kerry, according to the Israeli Prime Minister, attacked “the only democracy in the Middle East.” The key element of a democracy, however, is “the guarantee of basic human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.” By this definition Israel is not a democracy.
By its colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel has also killed the notion of a two-state solution. The world pretends it is still alive because it is not prepared to confront the truth of its death. It is this pretense, sadly, that has shielded Israel and allowed it to continue its 50 year occupation and confiscation of Palestinian land. For as long as there was hope for a two-state solution, there was no reason to press Israel on settlement expansion and human rights violations.
Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz shortly after the U.N. vote said: “Supporters of a two-state solution respond aggressively to anyone who tries to undermine their magical faith in a miracle that is dead but will somehow be resurrected. “ He elaborated, saying that “most people know the truth but refuse to admit it. They know that the number of settlers (650,000) has reached a critical mass. They know that no party in Israel will ever evacuate them. And without all of them being evacuated—and this, too, is something they know—there is no viable Palestinian state.”
Netanyahu has admitted multiple times that he would never allow a Palestinian state. He is not alone. All Israeli governments—all of them—continued the settlement enterprise knowing it would kill a two-state solution.
Again, according to Gideon Levy, “They act like the relatives of a moribund patient who is already brain dead, and whose organs are needed for transplants, but they refuse, hoping that somehow, a miracle will happen and the living dead will be resurrected.”
Hoping for a miracle and therefore preventing the life-saving transplant has killed, definitively, any hope for a Palestinian state. Israel has the final say in the matter. It can be definitively be labeled an apartheid state or it can agree to one state with equal rights for all its citizens.
As I write in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with both Sides, it is not the Palestinians, as people seeking self-determination and liberation from 50 years of occupation who face constant doubt and anxiety about the legitimacy and longevity of their political project, it is the Israelis.
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