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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Israeli settlement’

In the Matter of Susan Rice

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Getting at the truth of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is a work in progress and this is certainly a story with legs. Why U.S. personnel were not given adequate protection despite danger signals for weeks prior and why the Obama administration, in the face of intelligence information to the contrary, downplayed any terrorist dimension in the assault, urging instead that the attackers were ordinary Muslims upset about an anti-Muhammad video, is sure to be the focus of intense congressional attention.

But the brouhaha over the role of our UN Ambassador Susan Rice in promoting the deception has assumed a life of its own as she appears to be President Obama’s choice to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. To be sure, Ambassador Rice’s appearances on news programs touting the video scenario raises some serious questions. But there should also be concern over her comments to the UN Security Council in February 2011 when, ironically, she cast the U.S. veto of a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

It will be recalled that there was a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinians and their allies to have the Security Council pass a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement growth. President Obama indicated early on that the U.S. would not go along with this and, if necessary, block the measure by voting against it. (Because the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council, this meant the measure would not pass.)

Video of the Security Council session show an obviously upset Ambassador Rice as she cast the negative vote. Her body language and facial expressions send an unmistakable message. Here are excerpts of what she said that day:

The United States has been deeply committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In that context, we have been focused on taking steps that advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, rather than complicating it. That includes a commitment to work in good faith with all parties to underscore our opposition to continued settlements.Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace….

While we agree with our fellow Council members – and indeed, with the wider world – about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.

So, separate and apart from her role in the Benghazi aftermath. we have serious reservations about what it would mean for Israel should Ms. Rice become secretary of state. As for Benghazi, President Obama has defended Ms. Rice in the face of criticism that she misled the public. He has said she was following his orders. A similar defense was offered by members of the Black Congressional Caucus who insist that any criticism of Ms. Rice is racist and sexist since she was simply following the president’s directive.

In reality, of course, the ambassador has shown herself quite capable of communicating her personal disagreement with presidential policy when she feels the need to do so, as witness the above transcript.

We also note in this connection that as a cabinet level official, Ms. Rice had access to classified intelligence information concerning Benghazi that contradicts the administration’s initial video narrative. And how in the world did she overlook or dismiss the fact that the attack came on 9/11?

Does Freezing Settlements Help Peace?

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

The current US administration has been advocating the freezing of Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria, and so have several global players involved in the peace process. Evidence on the ground, however, seems to suggest that freezing settlement activity only fuels radicalism and terrorism, encourages delegitimizing Israel, deprives Palestinians of decent livelihoods and works significantly against achieving the long-sought peace. On June 4, 2009, when President Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” because they “undermine efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” Since then, the U.S. has relentlessly been pressuring the Israeli government to freeze the construction of settlements, eventually resulting in a ten month freeze of settlement activities by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. At one point, Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for Israel’s settlements’ freeze, an offer the Palestinian Authority had refused.

Pressure on Israel to freeze its settlement activity is also advocated by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who earlier this year called on Israel to halt settlement activity as “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinians. Israel has given such “goodwill gestures” to the Palestinians before, but the reciprocal gestures were never as good-willed. In exchange for “goodwill gestures,” Israel gets concussions. After Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, driving its own Israeli settlers from their homes by force, Hamas utilized the withdrawal for its propaganda, claiming it was a victory over Israel, and then started firing more Kassam rockets from Gaza into southern Israeli cities. After that, Hamas took over the entire Gaza strip by force from the Palestinian Authority and has been ruling there ever since.

It seems the concussions Israel keeps getting from its “goodwill gesture” in Gaza have extended to neighboring Egypt. In an article published by the Washington Institute in January 2012, seasoned Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari reports that since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula has become a major base for terrorists’ infrastructure, with the Bedouins becoming more radicalized and aiding Hamas with illegal trade. Arms smuggling into Gaza has risen to a record high, with “ever-larger sectors of the northern Sinai population becoming linked to Gaza and falling under the political and ideological influence of Hamas and the like.” All of this leads the inhabitants of the Sinai to think that they are entitled to become another terrorism forefront.

Concussion outcomes from Israel’s withdrawal from land are nothing new. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah quickly expanded the presence of its militants in southern Lebanon to the point of launching an unprecedented rocket attack on Israel in 2006. Why wouldn’t an expansion of an Israeli settlements freeze or a total Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria only lead again to an explosion in terrorist activities as has been the case in other places? Precedents suggest the outcome will not be different.

What is strange is how casual the world has become about asking Israel to stop building settlements on its own land. For example, last May, German President Joachim Gauck called on Israel to make “a goodwill gesture” in its settlement policy. Considering the historical sensitivity between Germany and Israel, one would think the German president would be more cautious about undermining Israel’s right to build homes on its own soil. What can be seen is that the demonization of settlers and settlements has become so regular that it is reaching the point where the delegitimization of Israel is becoming legitimized — probably just what the delegitimizers were hoping for.

The question about the legitimacy or legality of the settlements by itself is puzzling: historically, Judea and Samaria are legitimate parts of Israel — you just have to look at the evidence. The Balfour Declaration by which the British government confirmed that it favoured “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … and will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object,” was incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the British Mandate for Palestine, which was legally commissioned to Great Britain by the League of Nations, the equivalent of today’s United Nations, thus making Israel’s control of the entire British Mandate for Palestine — including Judea and Samaria — an internationally legitimate right. Since the draft of the Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, it would seem to be in accord with international law.

Peres: Settlements a threat to Israel

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Israeli President Shimon Peres called Judea and Samaria settlements a threat to Israel.

The remarks were made on Tuesday at the annual ceremony in memory of Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, and addressed a report released Sunday that said “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.

“It is doubtful that a Jewish state without a Jewish majority can remain Jewish,” Peres said, inferring that settlements would lead to the inextricable inclusion of the Palestinians living on the West Bank.

The Obama administration criticized the findings of the Levy Committee report.

“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Monday evening in answer to a question about the Levy Committee report. Ventrell added that the State Department is “concerned about it, obviously.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns could bring up the report during meetings this week in Israel. Burns will be there with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the region.

The Levy Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, called in its 89-page report for the legalization of all outposts and allowing people who built homes on Palestinian-owned land to pay compensation to the alleged owners, recommends changing the legal regulations concerning Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria in the areas of zoning, demolitions and building.

Leftist Jewish groups in the United States criticized the report.

Americans for Peace Now in a statement called on the government of Israel “to repudiate the findings of the commission it appointed to address the problem of illegal outposts in the West Bank.” APN added that Israel “would cause terrible damage to its international standing, to its relationship with the United States, and to prospects for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world” if the government adopted the report.

J Street called on the Israelis “to reject the committee’s recommendations and to choose instead a path that leads to two states, thereby securing both Israel’s Jewish and democratic future.”

The findings of the committee are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Netanyahu established the committee in January after settler leaders called for a response to the 2005 Sasson Report on illegal outposts, which concluded that more than 100 West Bank settlements and outposts constructed from the 1990s and forward were illegal.

State Dept. Objects to Levy Committee’s Legalizing Outposts

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

In a Monday State Deartment daily press briefing by Patrick Ventrell, director of the press office, the latter was asked by a reporter for his reaction to the Edmond Levy committee report which recommended legalizing most outposts which until now have been either in legal limbo, or on their way to being demolished. (The transcript was redacted for this report)

The reporter asked: “There’s an Israeli Government appointed committee which was asked to look into the legality of the settlements and has come forth with a ruling saying that they believe that essentially these settlements should be authorized, which is the Prime Minister’s position. The Israeli Government hasn’t accepted this ruling yet, but sort of stands ready to be accepted. Do you take any view on this creeping legalization of the settlement process? And is this useful at this point, ahead of Deputy Secretary Burns and the Secretary’s trip to Israel? Is this the kind of thing that you like to see happening?”

Ventrell: “The U.S. position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”

Question: “So you would urge the Government of Israel not to accept this panel’s recommendation?”

Ventrell: “My understanding is this is just a panel recommendation at this point.”

Question: “Is that going to be something that Deputy Burns brings up when he’s in Israel?”

Ventrell: “I’m not sure. I can’t read out his meetings in advance.”

Question: “Is it something that you can say that you’re sufficiently concerned about?”

Ventrell: “We’re concerned about it, obviously. The Deputy Secretary will be en route, and let’s see how his meetings go and see if we can report back to you when they’re over.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-dept-objects-to-levy-committees-legalizing-outposts/2012/07/10/

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