19 November 2019   Leave a comment

I am still trying to determine the significance of the US decision to consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank as legal under international law. The statement did not attempt to justify the decision in legal terms–there was no attempt to make the decision compatible with the 1907 Hague Convention or the Geneva Conventions. Thus, the decision should be considered as purely political. The Trump Administration has made several decisions which are consistent with the interests of the Netanyahu government: to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to end support for the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Agency which supports Palestinian refugees, and to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal. So there is nothing really new about the decision except that it makes US policy even closer to Israeli policy.

It may be the case that Secretary of State Pompeo made the declaration as a way of currying favor with President Trump, who is reportedly upset that so many State Department officials have been critical of his policies toward Ukraine. It may also be the case that the decision was made to blunt the decision of the European Court of Justice that all products sold in Europe that were made in the West Bank be labelled as such instead of being labelled as having been made in Israel. Nonetheless, the UN repudiated the position of the US:

“‘We continue to follow the long-standing position of the U.N. that Israeli settlements are in breach of international law,’ U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

“’A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the Security Council,’ he said.

“The International Court of Justice, in an advisory opinion issued in 2004, said that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, were established in breach of international law.”

It is very difficult to determine the overall US objective in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US is unquestionably siding with Israel, but it is unclear where the US expects the Palestinians to go. It is a serious mistake to assume that the Palestinians will quietly accept Israeli rule over their lives. But there is little question that the decision will resonate strongly with evangelical Christians who comprise a significant part of President Trump’s electoral base.

Posted November 19, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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