The Trump administration shook the swamp to its core on Monday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the legal status of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, also known as West Bank settlements. Pompeo stated that the United States does not consider West Bank settlements illegal under international law. This was the explicit position taken by Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush provided implicit recognition of the legitimacy of settlements when he noted that, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949…” The usual suspects, including Russia, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey, rushed to condemn the historic and politically significant United States policy shift.
In his twilight months in office, Barack Obama and his obsequious secretary of state, John Kerry, conspired with hostile and despotic nations like Venezuela, Egypt and Malaysia to pass United Nations Security Council resolution 2334. Under resolution 2334, settlements are deemed to be a “flagrant violation of international law.” The Obama-orchestrated UNSC resolution 2334 when taken to its logical extreme prohibits Israel from reconstructing Jerusalem synagogues and other religious institutions dynamited by the Arab Legion during their 19-year occupation of the Old City.
But the Trump administration put an end to Obama’s UNSC 2334 abomination. Trump has upended the status quo and reversed anachronistic Foggy Bottom notions of what Israel must concede to a genocidal entity that denies Jewish history and bases its entire ideology on antisemitism.
The instant policy shift follows a series of positive steps initiated by the Trump administration to acknowledge truth and facts on the ground. In December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move was in compliance with a 1995 bipartisan congressional law requiring the president to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since that law was passed, every president, including Obama, promised to move the embassy but only one, Donald J. Trump, kept his word.
Many career civil servants within the state department opposed the move and Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was rumored to have opposed the move as well. They claimed that the action would make it harder to achieve peace and averred that it would pose a danger to U.S. personnel. But Trump, who was simply adhering to congressional wishes, correctly argued that acknowledging truth would make peace easier rather than harder to achieve. Moreover, despite dire predictions, not a single American was hurt as a result of the recognition. Trump had proved the swamp wrong.
Then In March 2019, Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This was a move that was long overdue yet no American president had the fortitude to take such decisive political action. Indeed, far from recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, prior administrations, including the Obama and Carter administrations, condemned the building of Israeli communities there.
Prior to 1967, the Golan was used by the Syrians as a platform to incessantly shell Israeli communities in Galilee. Moreover, the Syrians attempted to divert water resources, originating in the Golan, from reaching Israel. In June 1967, Israel liberated the Golan and transformed this barren rocky plateau into productive land where all its residents, Jews and Druse, live in peace and tranquility.
In 2011, civil war broke out in Syria. Bashar Assad then resorted to using poison gas against his people. No one knows for certain how many Syrians were killed in that brutal war (which is still ongoing) but some have estimated the figure to be at just over 500,000. Millions more have been displaced and entire areas have been ethnically cleansed. Iran has ethnically cleansed Sunni areas while the Turks have ethnically cleansed Kurdish areas. Yet absurdly as it may sound, the Obama-Kerry duo attempted to coerce Israel into ceding the Golan to the Syrian butcher and serial killer.
Moreover, Trump’s actions are not transient actions that can simply be reversed by another administration. No future president will be able to relocate the embassy back to Tel Aviv and withdraw Golan recognition, for to do so would be tantamount to political suicide.
Unlike Obama, who maintained a visceral dislike for America’s closest and most important Mideast ally, Trump has demonstrated by both word and deed that he has Israel’s back. At the U.N., Trump’s former ambassador Nikki Haley and her successor Kelly Craft, have tirelessly acted to prevent nefarious actors from incessantly vilifying the Jewish State and have thwarted countless pernicious resolutions aimed at causing Israel political and economic harm. Trump’s latest action with regard to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are a reflection of Trump’s view that friends should be treated as friends, not enemies.