The Israeli Settlements: Five Questions Obama Never Thought Of

If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is correct that the Obama administration initiated, stood behind, and coordinated the wording of the anti-Israel U.N. Security Council vote admonishing Israel on its settlement policy, that would be the final nail in the coffin of eight years of failed U.S. foreign policy.

Indeed, with just a cursory glance around the globe and its hot spots and terror spots, it is not a stretch to say the only country the United States has better relations with now than it did eight years ago is Castro’s Cuba. Almost every other region or country we have touched has yielded worsened or more dangerous relations and conditions.

At the center of this is Andrew C. McCarthy’s observation that the opposite of President Obama’s foreign policy, one guided by the principle of “America First,” will be witness to the “restoration of America’s reputation as a dependable friend and an enemy not to be trifled with.” Of few places will that make a greater difference than with respect to Israel and the Middle East.

That President Obama and his team decided they would take one last shot at Israel before their departure is telling—not just about this president’s antipathy to our ally, but indicative of too much of the State Department’s (and world’s) acceptance of several myths (inspired by serious and coordinated propaganda campaigns) that peace in the Middle East, or just for Israel, will come once Israel abandons its settlement policy. That Jews living in places with names like Hebron and Jerusalem are the main or any truly serious cause of strife should raise the question it never does: Maybe the problem is not those settlements after all, but perhaps something else?

After all, looking at the major problems in the Middle East today, be it a failed Libya, Syria in meltdown, Egypt a coup away from topple, Iran’s bellicosity, Iraq’s deterioration, one has to laugh if not cry to think foreign policy experts pinpoint the settlements as anything close to the cause and problems of that forsaken region.

On top of all this, the day and talk of a “two-state” solution for Israel came and went a long time ago, as Walter Russell Meade points out: “[P]alestinian territories [have] devolved into two micro-states (Gaza and the West Bank, so that instead of a two-state solution one would have to speak of a three-state solution barring a Palestinian civil war).” In contemplating what a three-state solution might look like, what the settlements really mean, and what Obama’s and too much of the world’s focus on them actually exposes, we ask five questions that ought, but never seem to, answer themselves:

1.  Why are the territories continually referred to as “Palestinian?” With cities such as Hebron, Shilo, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Jerusalem—and many others from the Bible—why is the land never referred to as “Jewish” or “Christian?” For example, one of the most well-known cities in the West Bank is known as “The Palestinian city of Nablus.” How many people know how that name came about? (Hint: the Roman Emperor Vespasian re-named it from Shechem to “Neapolis,” as in Naples).

2.  Why are Palestinians free to live throughout cities in Israel such as Tel Aviv, but Jews are told they cannot be free to live in cities such as Hebron or Jerusalem?

3.  Israel captured the territories where the settlements are in 1967. Was 1966 or 1965 or 1964 or, for that matter, 1948, a time of peace on earth and good will toward Israel? Could it be the problem the region and its Arab inhabitants have with Israel has absolutely nothing to do with the lands of 1967? Why was there a war in 1967 if it is the land that was taken in 1967 that is the cause of so much strife? If this is confusing, see the next question.

4.  If the territories Israel captured in 1967 are the cause of so much belligerence, why was the PLO formed in 1964?  For that matter, why was Yasser Arafat’s and Mahmoud Abbas‘s Fatah party and organization founded in 1959?  For that matter, why is Fatah’s official  emblem—to this day—a depiction of two rifles and a grenade over the entire State of Israel and not just the territories of 1967? (see image at top).

5.  If the settlements were to cease and be uprooted, is there a model as to what the aftermath might look like?  (Hint: Yes—see Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and how tranquil the leadership in Gaza became toward Israel).

The point is simply this: Israel and its policies are nowhere near the cause of turbulence in the Middle East, but Israel and its policies are the continued focus of the international community’s denunciations. Absent America’s leadership, the turbulence has become worse, much worse. A new page of analysis and foreign policy is now required and a strong message of common sense, a focus on what is rather than what is not the problem, and standing by our allies once again is long overdue but, seemingly, not now long in coming.

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17 responses to “The Israeli Settlements: Five Questions Obama Never Thought Of”

  1. Israel is having its cake and eating it too with the “occupied territories”. They are part of Israel for all purposes but one – the Arabs who live there do not have Israeli citizenship, because they’re not technically “in Israel”.

    A comparable situation would be one in which the US de-facto annexed Mexico … but deprived the Mexicans of civil rights, including the vote, by not making the annexation de jure.

    The notion that borders should be set in stone and that countries cannot unilaterally change their boundaries is one which the “international order” has been consistent on since WWII. Of course that was before the recent mania for open borders and the anti-democratic construction of multi-national super-states by the world elite. They’re on less than solid ground in defending territorial integrity while calling for a North American Union and the free movement of people wherever they wish to go.

    • I disagree with your first paragraph. Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in 1980 after its peace accord with Egypt. In 2005, it withdrew entirely from Gaza and considers it to be foreign territory. In 1994, pursuant to the Oslo accords, Israel ceded administrative control of the Palestinian areas of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. That amounts to about 1/3 of the area in the West Bank. The remaining territory is a bargaining chip for negotiating a permanent solution to the Palestinian claim for an unlimited right of return to any land within the borders of Israel that had been owned in the past by Arabs. This goes back to the 1948 UN action to end the British mandate as well as the subsequent war and truce.

      • I disagree with your first paragraph.

        The rest of what you write fails to explain exactly what you disagree with. Israel has de facto annexed the West bank but finds it convenient to not annex it de jure, as doing so would require it to come to grips with an additional 2.3 million Arab’s in Israel.

        The remaining territory is a bargaining chip

        It’s not a bargaining chip. Israel has no intention of returning the West Bank.

  2. Seth Leibsohn makes some interesting points. The fact is that the Palestinians have consistently rejected the “two-state” solution since 1948. Leibsohn also makes the valid point that while Israeli Arabs can live anywhere in Israel Jews should be forbidden from living near Jewish shrines? President Trump may help provide answers for Leisohn’s five questions.

  3. “… that would be the final nail in the coffin of eight years of failed U.S. foreign policy.”

    Nope, the “final nail in the coffin of failed U.S. foreign policy” will be the “death of liberalism”.

  4. Dear Author and Concerned,

    Get a Divorce from the American State Dept if necessary by ceasing to be an American Client…or the faithless Bitch is gonna kill ya.

    There’s no middle way. If you want to live – leave the USG fold.

  5. So, TransJordan with its allies attacked the new nation of Israel in 1948, and they ended up with the West Bank stolen from Israel. Then, Israel gains the West Bank bank after their defensive offensive in 1967, but it doesn’t belong to Israel? Why is that?

    • I thought I was alone with this view. Annex all of it. Expel the Arabs. Done.

  6. This is an extremely delicate subject with few good options. I generally supported President Obama’s policies on this front but of course no US President has ever come up with a durable solution to the problem. Suffice it to say we should exercise caution. It is possible to do better than President Obama, and I wish the new administration does better.

  7. A “three state solution” that would make much more sense would be to return to the status quo ante 1967, with one major difference.

    The three states? Israel, including all of the West Bank and the Golan Heights. This would be the major difference, as pre-1967 borders are indefensible.

    The other two states? Jordan, taking whatever remains of “Palestinian” territory not ceded to Israel. Egypt, taking back the Gaza Strip.

    Jordan would not be too keen on having more PLO thugs in their midst; bad memories of Black September 1970 likely still resonate with the Hashemites. But with the right combination of diplomacy, carrots (e.g. bribes), and sticks (e.g. withholding aid), it could be done. Only if we have a tough-minded American administration doing it. Those who admire John Kerry’s diplomacy skills need not apply.

    Likewise for Egypt, who would not particularly want the terrorists in Gaza. But with the right inducements, it could happen.

    Far-fetched? Perhaps. But how much real progress has there been in recent decades for the holy grail of a two-state solution

    Note: this approach was put forward by John Bolton in 2014 ( I believe the logic is sound.

  8. There is no such people or country as Palestine or Palestinians.
    The word Palestine originates from ‘Philistine’ the name of an ancient ‘sea people’ that lived in the Gaza area. The Philistines were Aegean (Greeks). Philistines was the Jewish term for them. The Hebrew bible refers to them as “Plishtim” which means “invaders” so ironically, in an attempt to claim they’re indigenous the Palestinians named their national movement after a people that were never indigenous.
    While the region was under Roman rule between 66 & 132 CE the Jews waged rebellions against the Romans they were crushed in the Jewish Revolt of 132 CE. The Romans exiled the Jews and renamed Israel “Syria-Palestina”. They wanted to erase the Jewish presence from Israel by exiling and renaming their homeland after their Biblical enemies. It was meant to be a final humiliation. Minus the Jews, the majority population was Phoenician, Greek and Roman… not Arab. There is zero connection to the so-called Palestinians of today.
    The modern day ‘Palestinians’ are nomadic gypsy trash from Egypt, Syria and Arabia whose own countries threw them out wanting nothing to do with them until they proved themselves useful in displacing a more hated people the Israelis.
    That our current Idiot in Chief and moron SOS either have zero knowledge of historical or modern Palestine or simply choose to ignore it in their usurpation of our long-time ally Israel is an absolute embarrassment. Obama and Kerry just one-upped the Romans.
    Twenty-two days & counting to the end of a horribly failed social experiment.

  9. One State solution with equal rights for all citizens is absolutely the answer but as we have seen in US race relations can not be forced on people only economical equality and prosperity will empower different races to coexist. Israel can not claim to be a democracy if it wants to be called a Jewish State.