“Friends don’t take friends to the security council,” clamored Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning Israel for its ongoing and further expansion of illegal settlements into the West Bank. This ridiculous statement, which could only be matched perhaps by the pre-teen wit of Donald Trump himself, set the course for Israel’s current onslaught of attacks against Palestinians, their supporters and even those who simply request that Israel treat the Palestinian people with a slight bit more fairness.
The back and forth between Israel, the Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration has been dazzling our senses since the resolution was passed. But what is to be understood from this political circus and what does it mean for the heroic people of Palestine who, for a century now, have been struggling for their self-determination?
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334
On December 23, 2016 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted 14-0 in favor of Resolution 2334 condemning Israel’s ever growing expansion of settlements in the West Bank, Palestine. The resolution was put forward by New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal with almost all members of the Security Council voting in favor. The United States abstained, choosing not to use its veto power, allowing the resolution to be adopted.
An excerpt from the UN resolution reads “[The Security Council] reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.”
While this resolution is a positive step for Palestine, as it shows the support of the world towards basic elements of their cause and further isolates Israel, the resolution itself is non-binding and doesn’t put in place any mechanisms for being implemented. It also comes following dozens of other resolutions passed over the last decades by the UN Security Council that Israel has never abided by. Nonetheless overall this resolution represents a tool for the Palestine solidarity movement to further expose and delegitimize the Israeli government for their continuous attacks against the Palestinian people.
After the passing of the resolution, Israel and its spin doctors acted quickly trying to create an international controversy around it. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview with the U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) on December 27, 2016, "It's an old story that the UN is just a cesspool of anti-Israel activity. What's new is that the United States doesn't stand up to anti-Israel efforts." A quick glance into the history of UN condemnations of the criminal actions committed by the state of Israel easily debunks the ambassador’s claim. In fact if Obama’s administration did not abstain from the vote, he would have been the only U.S. president not to let a resolution critical of Israel pass in the Security Council.
In his final days as U.S. President in January 2009, George W. Bush’s administration abstained, allowing a resolution to be passed demanding an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza during the Israeli siege of that year. And that follows a history of many hollow condemnations and abstentions by various U.S. administrations on different UN resolutions criticizing Israel.
U.S. Change of Policy or Same Old Games?
The state of Israel has been working to try to paint Obama’s administration as the most anti-Israel regime in U.S. history but their posturing may have a lot more to do with setting the stage for the Trump regime’s reign, than the reality of Obama’s.
Netanyahu’s “friends don’t let friends…” banter easily provoked U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s attention. Trump sent two tweets, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but…” “Not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
The reality is that Obama’s administration has been one of the friendliest administrations towards Israel. Earlier in 2016 Obama signed the largest military aid package in U.S. history that will fund the Israeli army for the next 10 years to the tune of $38 billion in U.S. tax payers’ money.
In a televised speech a few days after the passing of the UNSC resolution, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, defended the position of the Obama administration. He explained, “I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.”
As Kerry describes, Obama’s administration has continued and increased the financial and military support for Israel. Contrary to what the pro-Israel media tries to portray, the United States’ relationship with Israel is as strong as ever. With Trump coming into power, from what we can observe from his notorious tweeting, it appears U.S. support for Israeli attacks against the people of Palestine will only increase.
Are Settlements Really the Issue?
From the UN resolution to debates on any given mainstream media channel, the discussions are centered on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These settlements are illegal by international law and have been condemned at the UN on numerous occasions in the last 50 years. Even the preamble of this most recent resolution cites 10 previous resolutions at the UNSC, as recently as 2008, all of which passed. But the settlements remain and in fact have increased by greater numbers than any previous period under Netanyahu’s leadership.
In John Kerry’s hour-long speech, he generally painted a useful picture of the situation in the West Bank when he said, “The number of settlers in the roughly 130 Israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. The settler population in the West Bank alone, not including East Jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since Oslo, including 100,000 just since 2009, when President Obama's term began.” The reason Kerry, Obama and all would argue that these settlements are a problem, is that they block prospects for the oh-so-holy “Two-State solution”. Kerry in his own words stated, “it’s not just a question of the overall amount of land available in the West Bank. It’s whether the land can be connected or it’s broken up into small parcels, like a Swiss cheese, that could never constitute a real state.”
This ‘real state’ that Kerry spoke of is nothing new and has not just recently popped up on the scene. Since 1947 when the UN created the partition plan dividing Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian land, world leaders have revitalized this two state plan time and time again.
But the plan was not practical anymore then than it is today. Firstly, because Israel has never stopped its continued expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank, making the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank impossible or as Kerry said ‘swiss cheese’. Secondly, because it is neither in the interest nor desire of Israel to give back any of the land it has stolen or stop plans to expand its occupation. Thirdly, because Israel’s backers in the U.S. government are in agreement with the Israeli regime on the first two points. The only slight difference the two have is how to better manage the Palestinian problem, or better to say, to colonize all of historic Palestine.
Zionist Occupation Is the Problem!
John Kerry’s speech tries to fool people into thinking that Israel’s expansion of settlements beyond the 1967 occupation is the main issue between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian land dates back further than 1967. By signing the Balfour declaration in 1917, Britain handed out the Palestinian land to the Zionists who used the slogan, "A land without a people for a people without land," to build a political movement around the racist Zionist ideology.
The Zionist agenda supported by the British and other colonial powers continued its expansion on Palestinian land and established the State of Israel in 1948. In establishing themselves on the “land without a people”, the Zionist forces killed an estimated 13,000 Palestinians and forcibly evicted 737,166 Palestinians from their homes and land. 531 one Palestinian villages were entirely depopulated and destroyed.
The expansion of Israeli settlements we see today are the continuation of the more than 100 years of brutal Zionist occupation of Palestinian land. The situation on the ground for Palestinians has increasingly worsened as Israel continues its attacks, bombings and siege on Gaza killing thousands of people and destroying tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospitals and every infrastructure possible. Today there are about 7.2 million Palestinian refugees worldwide.
One Palestine, One Vote!
In his speech, Secretary of State John Kerry’s pointed out, “So if there is only one state, you would have millions of Palestinians permanently living in segregated enclaves in the middle of the West Bank, with no real political rights, separate legal, education, and transportation systems, vast income disparities, under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms.” Basically what John Kerry is saying is that Israeli government, with the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, leaves no space for deceiving and manipulating the world public opinion for continuing a permanent phony and fake negotiation which started in the early 1990's. Secretary Kerry and the U.S. government know very well that the Israeli government has already killed the two state solution by injecting more than 700,000 of Jewish settlers into the West Bank in the last 50 years.
What John Kerry fears and describes is close to the reality of Palestinians living in the West Bank, but doesn’t come close to the brutality of life in the Gaza strip. Kerry’s warning of the “one state” option is based on perpetual Israeli occupation of Palestine and the total subjugation of millions of Palestinians under a so-called Jewish and democratic Israel, a false and contradictory claim by Zionists. Modern democracies are secular states. Certainly an Israeli Jewish state can not be a democracy.
The one state of Israel solution is what exists in Palestine currently. It has only been undergoing the process of colonization over the past 100 years. The ethnic cleansing of the West Bank of its Palestinian inhabitants and the constant bombing of Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, are both part of Israel’s road towards total occupation and colonization. As long as the racist Zionist state of Israel exists, there will be no solution, no peace. We will continue to see more settlements, killings, war, occupation and plunder of Palestine.
Jewish people have more in common with Palestinians than they do with the government of Israel. Both want to live in peace and both are oppressed, although at very different levels, by the state of Israel. The only solution towards peace is that Jewish people and Palestinian people unite, together, in one country called Palestine. With the Right of Return granted to Palestinians who have been made refugees and adopting what was so critical in the fall of apartheid in South Africa: one person, one vote. This serves as the only real option forward for the two people who deserve to live together in peace and security.
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