One of Israel’s leading critics in congress is Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) who uses the battering ram of “defending Palestinian children” to portray Israel as an offensive abuser of human rights. The foundation of her view of Israel is her belief that Israel has stolen land belonging to Arabs.
While McCollum didn’t utter a word about Hamas’s barrage of missiles against Israeli civilians in the summer of 2014, nor the killing of three Israeli teenagers which sparked the war, nor the Hamas Charter which blames Jews for all the world’s ills thus marking them for death, she did begin to find her voice regarding her view of the region a year later. In 2015, she berated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for opposing the Iranian nuclear plan, and in 2016, she admonished Israelis living in Area C of the West Bank. She then applauded the Obama Administration’s decision to allow UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass, making those Israeli homes illegal. On January 9, 2017 she offered the following:
“[telling hard truths] is particularly true when it comes to the issue of illegal Israeli settlement expansion. This policy is one of the most serious obstacles to achieving a two-state solution, the only viable avenue to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It has long been the bipartisan policy of U.S. administrations to oppose settlement expansion on land belonging to Palestinians before the 1967 war precisely because these settlements diminish the prospects of reaching a two-state solution and are not essential to Israel’s security.“
The quote above is full of factual inaccuracies, inane predictions and false beliefs. They each deserve to be unpacked as McCollum is likely not alone in these feelings.
“land belonging to Palestinians before the 1967 war”
This statement is full of problems:
- No sovereign Palestine. The land was not “Palestinian” as there was no “Palestine” before the 1967 war. The area commonly called the “West Bank” was annexed by Jordan in 1950. All of those “Palestinians” received Jordanian citizenship in 1954, as long as they weren’t Jewish (clause 3 spelled that anti-Semitic dynamic clearly). It is only because of the Oslo Accord signed by the newly created Palestinian Authority and Israel that there is some self-rule by Palestinians today. Roughly 86% of West Bank Arabs live in Areas A and B under Palestinian control and 100% of the Arabs in Gaza live under Palestinian control. There are about 14% of West Bank Arabs living in Area C under Israeli control – all post the Oslo Accords of the 1990’s.
- The dividing line was never a border. When the Jordanians and Israelis reached a ceasefire at the end of the 1948-9 war, the frontier for the “land belonging to Palestinians” was defined by the 1949 Armistice Lines. The ceasefire agreement specifically stated that the line is “without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines,” meaning that they were never considered to be a border. Therefore, not only was the land up to the 1949 Armistice Line not under Palestinian sovereignty, the border was never defined. A final resolution could be just half of the area thought of as the West Bank, or the border configuration put forward under President Trump.
- Individual ownership then and now. As described above, the land was not under the sovereignty of Palestine in 1967 but there were individual Arabs who owned land. Arabs owned and continue to own property in Israel too. Arabs under Palestinian rule today, and the 14% of Arabs who live in Area C also owned and continue to own homes. That hasn’t changed, but Jews who had owned land in the “West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem before 1967 had it seized by the Jordanians, so Jewish property now appears as something novel.
Jews and Arabs each own property on an individual basis in both Israel and the West Bank, and property rights have remained intact, as long as people are able to show valid documents.
- International law prohibits banning people based on religion. When the League of Nations gave the British the Mandate for Palestine which was a single territorial unit but now considered to be Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, Article 15 specifically stated that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” The idea that UNSC Resolution 2334 can call an Israeli Jew living in Area C as “illegal” but can call an Israeli Arab living in Jerusalem as legal is a violation of human rights, international law and blatantly anti-Semitic.
- International law encouraged Jewish immigration throughout Palestine. Article 6 in the same Palestine Mandate called for Britain to “facilitate Jewish immigration… and… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” International law considered the land not privately owned by Arabs to be designated for Jewish purposes.
When McCollum discusses “land belonging to Palestinians” she might be talking about individual Arab property which was and remains the same before and after Jordan attacked Israel in June 1967. But by adding the clause “before the 1967 war,” McCollum is seemingly implying that there was Palestinian sovereignty over discrete land with defined borders. There is absolutely no truth for any such characterization.
Rep. Betty McCollum’s entire basis for approaching the Arab-Israel Conflict is incorrect, illogical and based on a Palestinian narrative that rejects coexistence with Jews.Tweet
“illegal Israeli settlement expansion”
Israeli “settlement expansion” was legal as described above, UNTIL the passage of UNSC Resolution 2334 in December 2016. McCollum used twisted logic to defend enabling the passage of a law labeling Israeli homes as illegal by saying that they were illegal. But they weren’t illegal before the resolution! One can use similar logic by passing a law that makes owning a gun illegal and then defending the law by saying of course it’s illegal because it’s illegal! The fact is it was legal before the new law’s passage.
“most serious obstacles”
McCollum stated that Jewish families living in a section of the West Bank is one of the “most serious obstacles” to peace. More than Arab terrorism and incitement to murder. More than rampant Palestinian anti-Semitism. More than the Arab belief that Jews have no rights or connection or history living in the land.
To believe such nonsense, one must have adopted the Palestinian narrative whole OR simply want to grant the Palestinians their wish to have a country devoid of any Jews.
I will agree that Jews living in Judea and Samaria are an obstacle to a particular formulation of a two state solution – one preferred by Palestinians and others who want to limit where Jews can live. But that formulation is inherently anti-Semitic and a pathway to ensure that there will never be an enduring peace.
“not essential to Israel’s security”
A congresswoman from the United States told a country which is 444 times smaller than it, which has three times as many neighbors – several of which have refused to acknowledge its existence and have been in a constant state of war – that it has a good handle on what is and is not essential for the small country’s security.
No country in the world puts its capital city nor its largest city on a border, let alone with a neighbor which has constantly fought against its fundamental existence. If McCollum was truly concerned about Israel’s security, she would endorse Israel’s annexation of the area known as E1 east of Jerusalem all of the way to Maale Adumim, rather than state that Israel should divide its capital and largest city in two.
Rep. McCollum’s basis for approaching the Arab-Israel conflict is incorrect and illogical. It is perhaps not surprising that she tries to advance “soft” resolutions about protecting Palestinian children, hoping to avoid discussing her dangerous and false anti-Israel narrative.
Related First One Through articles:
Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough