The U.S. isn’t going to do a damn thing to end the occupation

As long as Washington views ending the occupation as an Israeli problem instead of a Palestinian problem, it will never even consider using its leverage to do so.

A view of the Israeli settlement of Shilo in the West Bank, October 6, 2016. The new settlement that angered the United States is being portrayed as a neighborhood of Shilo, but Shilo’s boundaries have been redrawn to include the site that is over 1 kilometer away. (Flash90)
A view of the Israeli settlement of Shilo in the West Bank, October 6, 2016. The new settlement that angered the United States is being portrayed as a neighborhood of Shilo, but Shilo’s boundaries have been redrawn to include the site that is over 1 kilometer away. (Flash90)

The United States issued an unusually sharp rebuke on Wednesday to news that Israel is building a brand new settlement in the West Bank. The State Department sounded mad. The White House sounded mad. Nobody is going to do anything about it.

It’s not that the United States is powerless in the face of an Israeli government that for nearly four decades has refused to heed Washington’s and the entire international community’s demands to stop building and populating settlements. Both the United States and the United Nations have tools for compelling belligerent states into compliance.

The problem is a matter of perception will. The United States does not perceive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — or rather, the Israel occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of basic Palestinian rights — as a Palestinian problem. To the United States, and much of the West, the impetus for ending the occupation and achieving a two-state solution is preserving Israel’s strategic interests, not protecting Palestinian rights.

“It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement Wednesday.

“Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution,” Toner continued. “Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

That state of affairs is framed as an Israeli decision. But Israelis do not have the right — whether exercised through seemingly democratic means or unabashed military might — to choose to keep millions of people disenfranchised, living under a discriminatory and brutal military regime that maintains two sets of laws for people living side by side depending on their religion or ethnicity.

Nowhere does Toner, or the nearly identical statement issued by the White House, suggest that Israel’s perpetuation of the occupation, largely via its settlement enterprise, should be halted immediately because it systematically robs Palestinian men, women and children of their most basic, inalienable rights. Instead, “a one-state reality of perpetual occupation” poses a challenge to the domination of Israel’s democracy by Jewish Israelis.

Which brings us to the matter of willingness. Never in the history of the contemporary international system has diplomatic — or more serious — pressure been brought against a country for acting against its own interests. As long as that is how the United States perceives the urgency of ending the occupation, it will never be willing to take action to ensure the occupation ends.

Only if the United States starts to prioritize Palestinian rights over the minutia of Israel’s political system will it even consider using the type of leverage that might reflect that priority.

Both the State Department and White House on Wednesday made sure to create a correlation between the signing of a recent $38 billion military aid agreement and Washington’s unusually harsh articulation of disappointment with settlement growth. If the political will to change or halt Israeli settlement activity existed, the military aid agreement could have provided exactly the caliber of leverage that might make Israel’s leadership question their priorities.

But the United States is not that interested in ending the occupation, or even in preserving as much land as possible for a Palestinian state. And because Palestinian rights fall considerably lower than the religiously homogenous makeup of Israel’s elected government on Washington’s list of priorities, it’s not going to do a damn thing about it. At least not anything that matters.

In a press briefing later in the day Wednesday, Toner said almost exactly that (starting at around minute 22:55 — the transcript appears below):

QUESTION: Well, since you – since you started, since the United States starting – started opposing this kind of activity decades ago —

MR TONER: And you’re right, decades ago in —

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR TONER: — Republican and —

QUESTION: Under both administrations.

MR TONER: — as I’d say.

QUESTION: Yes, yes, I know. You read through the whole thing. Has it ever – have you ever seen – have you ever had any success?

MR TONER: Well —

QUESTION: There’s been —

MR TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: I realize there have been short-term freezes, but it just seems to me that if you feel —

MR TONER: There have been short-term freezes.

QUESTION: — this strongly about it to come out with a statement like this that talks about the MOU that was just signed and President Peres’s death – if you come out with a statement that strong, don’t – I mean, don’t you expect it to have some kind of an effect?

MR TONER: Yes, we do.

QUESTION: You clearly feel strongly about it.

MR TONER: Of course we do.

QUESTION: But you – you do expect it to have some kind of effect, but you know that it won’t?

MR TONER: You’re saying that – I was simply responding to your question that we don’t have – we’re not going to take any action. What I was trying to make clear —

QUESTION: Is that correct? You’re not going to do anything?

MR TONER: Well, again, we – our action is that —

QUESTION: Other than trying to make them feel bad?

MR TONER: No, but our action is that we convey to them both publicly and privately and to the world when we see Israel conducting itself in a way that runs counter to its security interests.

 

11 responses to “Resource: Choosing annexation over development”

  1. itshak Gordine says:

    Review paid by the EU so trash

    • Ben says:

      This by you, is denialism of truly comic proportions. Of sublimely unintentional self-satirizing proportions.

      (In the psychology of human behavior, denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event, when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality. -Wikipedia)

      And there is always this odd, Herr Sturmer video-style anti-Semitic smear clinging to these “paid by EU” slanders. And the right wing never tires of doing this. Are the hard core settlers ever capable of shame? I haven’t seen it.

      • itshak Gordine says:

        Bla blah: Like many Israelis, I am wary of studies and projects funded by Europe. Those who receive help from generally hostile entities have almost no public in Israel (Breaking the silence, BDS, etc.). Their “works” only serve to feed the speech of associations or people hostile to the State of Israel. But at least it occupies them .. Meanwhile we build everywhere in the Land of Israel.

        • Ben says:

          Note the absolute, pure disregard for whether the report is TRUE or not, in this as in any other report, it’s all about what can be gotten over on others.

          Note the absolute regard for whether the right wing public reads it or not, the degree to which the truth can be squelched or not, the absolute disdain for the truth.

          Note the equation of “hostility to Israel,” (aka “anti-Israel”) with any opposition to unrestrained settlements and their associated constant human rights violations.

          Note the “what can we get away with?” gangster mentality.

          One cannot argue with people like this, one has to bring principled state forces to bear on them from outside the cult. And this, by the EU is what Haley just loathes.

          At the same time that Halevy feels entitled to all sorts of massive EU subsidies and massive German funding for Israel’s defense and all sorts of things, he begrudges the EU sending school bake sale amounts to tiny shoe string human rights organizations or truth-telling newspapers and communities the Israeli behemoth treats with great brutality. And he ruthlessly smears the motives of the people doing it, even deploying anti-Semitic insinuations to do it.

          FYI, the person I am replying to here lives as a settler in the West Bank. He types his replies to me from a settlement in the West Bank. And yet he, like the Judge on the Israeli High Court (Noam Sohlberg) who is also a West Bank Settler, poses as some kind of neutral arbiter, some kind of unbiased arbiter, of what constitutes “hostility.” You can’t make this stuff up.

          • Lewis from Afula says:

            Ben:
            The EU is a joke and it is slowly coming apart.
            Most EU reports are nothing more than waffly irrelevant rubbish.
            Judea and Samaria will stay Israeli long after the EU is a forgotten memory.

          • Ben says:

            The Report, and Shenhav-Goldberg’s account of it, are anything but waffly and irrelevant. Remember, denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event, when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality.

          • itshak Gordine says:

            If you are not happy with Israeli politics, come to Israel, become a citizen and get into politics. Otherwise your abundant verbiage is useless. You are bleating in the desert.

          • Ben says:

            This is amusing coming from a settler who does not actually live in Israel but in illegally occupied territories outside Israel. Yet is accorded the right to vote inside Israel while people living for generations a half-kilometer down the road from him are not. Simply based on ethnicity. A settler who eagerly practices a form of apartheid. But this same settler living outside Israel gets steamed about anyone else from outside Israel having a say about it.

            As I said above, this is the mentality of gangsters everywhere. “Leave us alone, what business is it of yours, everything is fine here, we can handle it, this is ‘our thing.'”

          • Lewis from Afula says:

            Those people livimg half a km down the road NEED TO GO HOME.
            Their reletives in Amman are waiting for them !

          • Itshak Gordine says:

            You are definitely losing your nerves. someone who may never have set foot in Israel who allows himself to make false accusations. We are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Judea and Samaria. We have made it a developed, green region, with a high quality of life and a very high birth rate, with the blessing of the US government and most of the Jews around the world who are sending us their youth.

          • Ben says:

            Oh, I’ve set foot not just in Israel, I’ve set foot outside Israel, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Why don’t you tell me what settlement you’re sending these bouquets of propaganda from, settler, and I’ll tell you if I’ve been in your settlement. Or outpost.

            Is that you swimming in the Anar Springs here?
            https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-this-place-is-only-for-jews-the-west-bank-s-apartheid-springs-1.7767344

            It’s ridiculous to be having tit for tats here with brutal hard core ideological settlers spouting sugar-coated propaganda lies in the forum of a Magazine meant for much more intelligent purposes.