The terminology used by the United Nations that Israel is “illegally occupying Palestinian Land” has angered Israelis for a long time. The Israelis do not believe that the land is “Palestinian,” that they are “occupying it” or that living in and controlling such land is “illegal.”
The Trump Administration agrees with this approach.
The 2016 Republican platform discussed Israel in several sections, including the B.D.S. (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement which it labeled antisemitic, in prioritizing the security needs of allies like Israel over foes, and in moving the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. It also clearly mentioned Israel’s control over disputed land:
“We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier”
The logic behind such attitude has been voiced by Israel and Israeli advocates for a long time, although it gets no air in the left-wing media. In short:
- International law in 1920 and 1922 specifically called for Jews to reestablish their homeland throughout Palestine, covering all of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River;
- The “Green Line” or “1967 border,” is no border at all, but simply the armistice lines of 1949 which were deliberately and specifically not called borders but temporary lines too be negotiated for final settlement;
- Jordan illegally evicted all the Jews from the area between the Green Line and the Jordan River (an area which later became known as the “West Bank”) and annexed the land in a move which was not recognized by almost the entire world;
- Jordan broke the Jordanian-Israeli Armistice Agreement by attacking Israel in June 1967;
- Israel took the “West Bank” in a defensive war, which makes the situation completely distinct from laws regarding taking land in an offensive war, especially when such land was not part of a sovereign nation, and was designated to be part of the acquiring country in any event
In summary, Israel took the “West Bank” back from a country which had illegally evicted all Jews, illegally annexed the land and illegally attacked it (the “Three Illegal Actions”).
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration sided with the United Nations, a group dominated by over 50 Arab and Muslim countries, the majority of which do not recognize Israel in any form. The United States, as part of the “Middle East Quartet,” co-signed a joint statement in September 2016, the final declaration before the Trump Administration took over which included the following:
“The Quartet reiterated its call on the parties to implement the recommendations of the Quartet Report of 1 July 2016, and create the conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and resolve all final status issues.”
“The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.”
The Obama Administration followed this up in December 2016 when it allowed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass which stated:
“the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;”
The Republican and the Democratic Party/UN could not be further apart on this issue.
Since the Trump Administration has taken office, it has followed through on its position on this matter:
- It has curtailed the announcements made by the Quartet, and none of them refer to an “occupation” of “Palestinian territory” being “illegal”;
- In June 2019, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,“; and
- U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt also stated in June that “We might get there [to peace] if people stop pretending settlements, or what I prefer to call ‘neighborhoods and cities,’ are the reason for the lack of peace.“
While the two positions seem incompatible, they need not be.
The Republican position is completely logical. Further, how can there really be an enduring peace assuming the Democratic position of blessing an Arab Jew-free state? How can “progressives” support the antisemitic notion that Jews should be banned from living somewhere, let alone, in parts of their homeland?
The Democratic position also has logic. The Palestinian Arabs and the broader Arab world are insistent on Palestinian sovereignty. While sovereignty is NOT an “inalienable right” which the biased United Nations bestowed upon the Palestinians uniquely (only self-determination is an inalienable right of all people), it might not be a bad solution to the current impasse. Should the Palestinian Arabs obtain sovereignty, they will require defined borders. However, such new state of Palestine need not – and should not – be based on the antisemitic notion that Jews cannot live there.
The blend of the positions might be that Palestinians obtain sovereignty over a portion of the land, say in Gaza and land east of the security barrier which Israel built to stem the waves of Palestinian terrorists. It is consistent with both the Democrats and Republicans stated positions of caring about Israel’s security, while acknowledging the substance of the Republican position that the “1967 borders” are arbitrary and not borders, and the Democratic position that a two-state solution is the best path towards a peaceful settlement.
The Trump administration has not yet revealed the political portion of its Middle East plan and may not do so until after the Israeli elections scheduled for September 17. It might call for a new independent Palestinian State on the lines above, or it might suggest some sort of confederation with Jordan, which poses its own issues for Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Either way, the Republicans have clearly broken with the notion endorsed by the Unsavory UN and the Democratic Party that Israel illegally occupies Palestinian Land, and will advance a peace proposal on such basis.
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