In spite of a UN resolution banning such, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans for his government to build some 2500 settlements in the West Bank. This topic is so highly controversial for so many different reason that I’m not going to even attempt to parse them all out in this post for it would be the longest post in the history of blog posts (literally).
But a couple salient, if broad-stroked, points are that the United States of America has long considered itself a friend to Israel dating back proverbial eons. Even so, the U.S. position regarding Israeli settlements have varied from administration to administration largely depending on the political climate and how ardently the government of Palestine contested the settlements. For example, President Ronald Reagan characterized the settlements as “not illegal” while presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton steered clear of getting mired in legal arguments but criticized the settlements with consistent frequency.
In 2011, President Obama vetoed a UN Security council resolution which called the settlements “illegal” but at the same time, Susan Rice, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, vilified what she called the “folly and illegitimacy” of the Israeli settlements. Former Secretary of State John Kerry said in 2013, “The United States views all of the settlements as illegitimate.”
So what’s all the fuss about in the first place?
Well, at its core, I believe it’s a simple question of fairness. Israel believes it has the right to build the settlements while Palestine disputes that right as they assert that they are the bona fide possessors of lands in question. So, more or less, America has always attempted to be the arbiter in this situation to keep the peace. Israel has been aggressive and often thumbed its nose at the laws on the international books with impunity. Shortly before Obama left office he supported another UN resolution that made the settlements illegal, in return, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had very coarse words for the 44th U.S. president and all but cut off communicating with Obama all together.
Now, with Trump in office, Netanyahu based on rhetoric offered by Trump during his candidacy, sees that he now has a ally in the United States. With Trump’s disdain for all things United Nations, Netanyahu is sure to have someone at his back who will, in the very least, “look the other way” when it comes to his aggressive expansion of the settlements. The question is, if Trump definitively and actively supports the settlements, which again are illegal according to international law, is he coming down on the right side of history? And what will be the cost? Peace in the Middle East is already tenuous at the very best, will this exacerbate relations between Palestine and Israel to the point of all out war? Questions that only time will answer.
More as this story develops.
Think Passionately. Disrupt Strategically.
-A. Lawrence Haskins
ALH Around the Web: