November 18, 2019

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Is it official State Dept policy is to keep the West Bank permanently Judenfrei?

There was a very troubling sentence in the middle of another Haaretz article trying to spin Netanyahu’s concessions for peace with Palestinians as somehow being evil:

In the course of negotiations with the Palestinians over the framework document at the beginning of 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the Obama administration insert a provision stating that Israeli settlers and settlements in the West Bank would be allowed to remain in a future Palestinian state under Palestinian jurisdiction. This is according to a working draft of the document obtained by Haaretz and from conversations with senior Israeli and U.S. officials who were involved in the talks at the time.

The Americans were willing at one point to insert the provision into the document, but ultimately it was removed at Netanyahu’s request due to political pressure from Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, as well as from several senior members of the prime minister’s Likud party.

The senior Israeli officials noted that Netanyahu had asked the Americans to insert the provision into one of the principles provided in the framework agreement that Kerry was developing. In a draft of the document obtained by Haaretz from the beginning of February 2014, there was a provision stating that Israelis choosing to remain in the State of Palestine would live under Palestinian jurisdiction, without discrimination and with full rights and protections.

The prime minister’s position was the background for a notation in parenthesis stating: “[U.S.] negotiators need to check with PM [Netanyahu] on whether he wants to keep this section. They believe that if so he will push strongly for [keeping the Jewish residents] ‘in place.’ ‘In place’ is inconsistent with U.S. policy and therefore unacceptable to us as well as the Palestinians.”

That is an astonishing sentence. It says that allowing Jews to remain in their homes in Judea and Samaria, under Palestinian rule and jurisdiction, is against US policy!

There is a possibility that the US objections were to the specific term “in place” rather than explicitly saying “in the State of Palestine,” but US officials quoted in the article said that the terms were practically the same thing and that Netanyahu wanted the “in-place” formulation for internal political reasons, not as a practical suggestion that the Jews would have any status besides being under Palestinian Arab rule.

If this is true, and the reporting seems sound, then this may be an incredible example where the US State Department policy is officially antisemitic, saying that Jews – not Israelis, but Jews – have no rights to live in the Biblical Jewish homeland.

(h/t Avi B)

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