By Daphne Anson
Here’s the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.
President Trump’s decision to back Israel’s claims to sovereignty in the West Bank and Jerusalem has resurrected America’s commitment to the Jewish people made by President Bush and Congress in 2004 after that commitment had been subsequently repudiated by President Obama in the last month of his Presidency in December 2018.
Bush’s Congress-endorsed commitment was given to Israel in a letter from President Bush to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004. Bush confirmed that America regarded it as unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would see Israel withdraw from all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
President Bush’s commitment was overwhelmingly endorsed by Congress by 502 votes to 12.
Bush’s commitment procured Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank in 2005 involving the forcible removal of 8000 Jews living there – a decision which has had disastrous consequences for both Israel’s and Gaza’s civilian populations after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the Palestine Liberation Organization.
President Obama shredded this Bush Congress-endorsed commitment when he abstained – rather than vetoed Security Council Resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016, which declared:
“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”
Secretary of State John Kerry offered this pathetic explanation on 28 December 2016 for Obama’s failure to veto Resolution 2234:
“the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbours. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.”
Resolution 2334 however was asserting:
- The West Bank and East Jerusalem were “Palestinian territory” and
- 600,000 Jews currently living there had no legal entitlement to do so despite the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations own Charter legally vesting that right in the Jewish people.
Obama and Kerry were knowingly complicit in America not vetoing this overtly-hostile anti-Jewish Security Council resolution. Obama invariably had vetoed similar Security Council resolutions during his eight years as president.
Obama’s then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had misleadingly denied on 6 June 2009 that any such Bush-era commitment existed. Yet she had voted in the Senate to endorse Bush’s commitment on 24 June 2004 when a Senator.
Obama’s refusal to veto Resolution 2334 as he was exiting the White House – leaving this poisoned chalice behind for President Trump – was shameful.
Trump recognition of Israel’s right to retain portions of the West Bank and East Jerusalem has restored America’s reputation for honouring commitments made by its president and endorsed by its Congress.
Trump’s decision sends a clear message to the United Nations that it needs to act in accordance with its Charter if it is to have any influence or relevance in ending the Arab-Jewish conflict.
Trump has also put the Arab States on notice that America stands strong in its continuing support for Israel and its claims to sovereignty in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The sooner the Arab States understand this change in America’s position post-Obama – the sooner Trump’s yet to be released “deal of the century” has a chance of succeeding.
Obama and the United Nations’ treacherous attempt to entrap Trump has spectacularly failed.
(Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones” — one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog)