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Elliott Morss | October 21, 2014

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More Israeli Settlements and Another US Veto – What It All Means

by Elliott R. Morss, Ph.D.

Introduction

Back in 2006, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote one of the most powerful articles I have ever read. In it, the tenured professors from the University of Chicago and Harvard, respectively, documented in considerable detail how excessive US support for Israel “has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world”.

On February 18 of this year, I wrote “Excessive US support for Israel has made it Enemy #1 throughout the Middle East. This has led directly to a new terrorism era with suicide bombers, plane hijackings, and 9/11. Foreign policy that creates such enemies is not good foreign policy.

The terrorist opposition did not come because the US helped establish the Israeli state. Rather, it resulted from the US arming Israel to be its US policeman in the Middle East. Israel used its power to seize and occupy lands of its neighbors. For these aggressive actions, Israel has been condemned by the UN Security Council 29 times, far more than any other country in the history of the UN.”

What led me to write the February 18th article? I quote from a CBS news release on that date:

UNITED NATIONS – The U.S. was the sole veto of a U.N. Security Council Resolution, condemning Israel’s settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem – a Resolution calling the settlements illegal and a major obstacle to peace. The vote of at the U.N. was 14 – 1 with the U.S. exercising its first veto since President Obama came to office — and the only negative vote at the Security Council.”

Background

The first US veto favoring Israel was in January 1976 when Syria, Egypt and Jordan brought a resolution to the Security Council calling for a two-state Jewish/Palestinian settlement on the international border. The resolution incorporated the wording U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 that passed unanimously in 1967. UN 242 said Israel would give back the lands it seized during the six-day war and that the resulting borders would be the basis for the Palestinian state. The US supported the 1967 resolution but vetoed the 1976 resolution.

Recent Events

So why was the US veto in February of this year so important? Because Israel continues to build settlements on land that everyone agrees should be part of the new Palestinian state. The Arab Spring that the US has supported in other countries? When it comes to Palestine, forget it.

We now hear the US will veto the Palestinian request for statehood. Why? Because that is what Israel wants. And what did we learn yesterday? That Israel is expanding settlements by building 1,100 new apartments in East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem includes the old business district of Palestinians. It was supposed to be the capital of the new Palestinian state.

All of this is outrageous. Most Americans either don’t know or don’t care. The best information on what is happening in the Middle East is carried by Al Jazeera. You can get Al Jazeera on only 3 cable systems in the US. Guess why.

Reflections

It is useful to get an outside perspective on this issue. So I close with some thoughts from the British writer, Henry Porter, made in a recent Guardian piece:

  • …the problem is not so much American public opinion as the lack of it. Most Americans have decided that it is simply safer to leave Israel out of the discourse. So, unconditional support continues without much review or debate….
  • Supporters of Israel in Europe, among which I count myself, find the terms of this uncritical, one-way relationship bizarre and it is unsustainable after three regimes in North Africa have fallen to a genuinely democratic popular movement and a heroic struggle continues in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.
  • The inconsistency between the US attitude towards Tunisia, for example and Palestine seems rank hypocrisy to hundreds of millions of Arabs, whose revolutions, incidentally, were never defined by hatred for Israel or America.
  • There has already been an eruption of anti-Israeli sentiment in Egypt with the storming of the embassy 10 days ago, but this is nothing compared with what may ensue if Palestinian aspirations are rejected by America and Israel, both of whom have already accepted the principle of two-state solution.
  • A new Palestinian intifada would be a disaster for the Middle East and Israel and in the current turbulence there is no way of knowing where it would end.
  • If Susan Rice, American ambassador to the UN, goes against the wishes of more than 120 countries that support the recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and vetoes the move, we can be certain of at least two outcomes: the reduction of American influence in the Middle East and the further isolation of Israel, which this year has already lost two important allies in Egypt and Turkey.
  • A vote against Palestine statehood will also increase Iran’s opportunities to cause mischief and drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the US.
  • The Obama administration has failed to bring Israel and Palestine together in meaningful talks and has absolutely nothing but further Israeli prevarication to offer the Palestinians.
  • There is no good reason for a veto and no conceivable upside. It is a tragedy to watch America, compelled by a failure of its national debate and the fear of what Israel’s supporters may do at the next election, to move unerringly towards such a disastrous action.

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