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Hillary Slams Settlements—Again

Posted By P. David Hornik On February 21, 2011 @ 12:14 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 62 Comments

As if UN ambassador Susan Rice’s tongue-lashing of Israel at the Security Council on Friday wasn’t enough, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also had some choice words in an interview to ABC’s Christiane Amanpour shortly before the Security Council vote.

“I think it is absolutely clear to say,” Clinton enunciated,

number one, that it’s been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians.

“Illegitimate” is supposed to be just short of “illegal” while still being, of course, a very strong condemnation.

It’s an idiom for which the secretary of state is already well known. Last March, when the Obama administration publicly skewered Israel over plans for Jewish housing in Jerusalem, Clinton called the plans a “deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the [U.S.-Israeli] relationship” that “had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process.”

And in May 2009 she was even more emphatic, saying that Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions.” The clear implication was that even babies should not be born in Israeli West Bank communities, or perhaps should be relocated immediately thereafter.

Official Israel had little choice, of course, but to praise the U.S. veto of Friday’s Palestinian-initiated Security Council resolution on settlements—led by a statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office that “Israel deeply appreciates the decision.” A veto accompanied by abusive language from the UN ambassador and the secretary of state is, no doubt, better than no veto. But to say that it is a lesser evil is not to excuse it.

The Israeli communities in the West Bank—or Judea and Samaria, locus of much of the Bible, and cradle of the Jewish people and of the Judeo-Christian component of Western civilization—now comprise about 300,000 inhabitants. If one adds to these the 200,000 Jewish Israelis now living in northern, eastern, and southern parts of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, that the Obama administration also consistently calls “settlements,” the total comes to about half a million.

Is all this illegitimate? Of course not—not according to that earlier Security Council Resolution, 242 of 1967, which sets the basis for Arab-Israeli diplomatic processes and never mentions settlements; nor according to the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo accords, which leave settlements as an issue for final-status negotiations and in no way proscribe them.

Nor were settlements illegitimate according to Eugene V. Rostow, the late legal scholar who helped draft Resolution 242 and, in 1991, asserted in the New Republic that Israel’s right to settle the West Bank is “unassailable” and that “the Jews have the same right to settle there as they have to settle in Haifa.” Nor according to Stephen M. Schwebel, the international-law expert who wrote in 1970 that

As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem….

And what of the implications of the U.S. secretary of state publicly branding communities comprising half a million people as “illegitimate”? They’re clearly very negative, at a time when Israel is subject to a worldwide delegitimization campaign that seeks to drum home big lies about it being a “rogue,” “apartheid” state that consistently flouts international law and deserves “BDS” (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) if not violent attack.

And from what does Clinton’s “illegitimate” calumny stem? It stems from a bowing and scraping before the Palestine Authority’s demand, representative of Arab and Islamic supremacism, that Judea, Samaria, and the most historical parts of Jerusalem be Judenfrei, and the claim that this is somehow a condition for “peace.”

But Jews will keep living in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, and those with an elemental sense of justice, and an honest awareness of the facts, will see it as a good thing.


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