Saturday, 19 February 2011


On Saturday, 19 February 2011, the US was the only country voting against (using veto power) the UN resolution to condemn Israeli settlements in Palestinian lands. Praising the Obama administration for using veto power to kill the UN resolution, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee noted that the US prevented "another one-sided, anti-Israeli resolution from being enacted by the U.N. Security Council."

The US had the great opportunity during these tumultuous times of revolts throughout the Middle East/ North Africa to demonstrate some leadership, but instead it chose not to deviate from its four-decade long position. While the US opposes new Jewish settlements, evidently in principle and a formal diplomatic position instead of the policy it actually follows, it has done nothing of substance to stop the settlements. On the contrary, without US political, economic, and military support the settlements would not have been possible.

That the resolution was presented against the background of widespread social unrest throughout North Africa and the Middle East and had no impact on the dogmatic US foreign policy position further demonstrates the hypocritical one-sided  US foreign policy that is a relic from the early Cold War and has no relevance today. Nor was the US discouraged that 130 nations actually sponsored the resolution and that the US stood alone on this issue that is inexorably linked to human rights violations - this from a country that has been lecturing those countries whose foreign policy it opposes to observe human rights.

Ever since 1967, Israelis began to establish illegal settlements in Palestinian Territory and East Jerusalem, where today an estimated 500,000 Israelis live in more than 120 settlements. The settlements provide tangible proof that Israel is an occupying power as far as the UN and the entire world is concerned. Yet, it manages to prevail over international law and global political condemnation because the US has always provided political, military, and economic aid to Israel.

Although Obama and Clinton called on Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas not to go through with the resolution, there was little chance that the Palestinian authority would miss the opportunity, especially now that the Muslim Brotherhood has been strengthened in Egypt. To retaliate against Abbas and Fatah, the Israeli government arrested three top Palestinian leaders, tighten police around all checkpoints, and east Jerusalem. Given that the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace talks' have proved a sham like so many others during previous administrations, given that the US is unwilling to assume the responsibility of genuine peace broker in the Middle East, the question is whether the Arab uprisings all around Israel would spread to the Palestinian Territories. 

Those who know about the water allocation issue affecting the Palestinians who are victims of US/Israel apartheid policy; those who know that many Israelis ultimately want the settlements to continue until such point as all Palestinians are gone, forced into Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and the rest of the Arab countries; those who know of the powerful Israeli lobby in Washington should be pessimistic about any peace negotiations brokered by any US administration no matter the rhetoric intended to appease those who are demand an end to the injustice that has lasted more than 60 years.

True pessimism, however, or optimism depending on one's perspective, over the Palestinian question now emanates from the revolutionary climate that has spread throughout the region and it is unlikely not to make things very difficult for Israel and the US in the future. Today was an opportunity for a symbolic new beginning, but the US missed it. How many more such opportunities before there is another Intifida, and the Palestinians call upon neighboring Egypt, likely to have a pro-Islamic regime, to assist? If a peaceful resolution is unlikely because Israel and the US are not interested, the only fate that awaits the Palestinian people is a tragic one that involved violence against their oppressors.

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