On the Israeli Settlements Issue and the U.N. Resolution

The politics of the Middle East are complex and in order to fully understand the situation between Israel and Palestine, one must do more than simply listen to CNN or read catchy Facebook memes.  Without understanding the history of the area, one cannot understand the issues of the present.  Period.  However, I am hearing vast numbers of people, including one Donald Trump, jumping blindly in with their uneducated opinions, saying that the U.S. was wrong to abstain from voting on the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian areas.  Uneducated opinions are permitted in this country, but in most cases are not helpful.  This is no exception.

israel-1I cannot possibly explain everything about this situation in 1200 words or less, but perhaps a very brief overview will help to explain why I believe President Obama and Secretary Kerry made the right decision. Israel is our ally, and we have, through the years, supported them in many ways.  Despite Trump’s assertion that the Obama administration is treating Israel with “disdain,” the Obama administration has repeatedly increased funding to support Israel’s military and in September, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide $38 billion in security assistance to Israel over the next 10 years — the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history to any country.

However, when a friend is making a bad decision, you may be less than eager to support him.  This is why we did not veto the resolution, but merely abstained.  Think of it this way … you would do anything for your best friend, right?  Yet, if that friend tells you she is going to break into a house and steal a television set, and she wants you to go along to help her carry the television, are you going to do it?  You have three choices:  a) you can go along and help her, even though your conscience tells you it is the wrong thing to do; b) you can report her plan to the authorities, or c) you can do neither.  We chose option ‘C’ in the case of the U.N. resolution.

The territories in dispute are the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the 1967 Six-Day War, aka the Arab-Israeli War, Israel defeated Egypt, Jordan and Syria and as a result, occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.  This area has come to be known as Occupied Palestine. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids an occupying power, in this case Israel, from settling its people in conquered territory. The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention have all affirmed that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply in this case.


Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev near the West Bank city of Ramallah


Though the building and existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are in violation of international law, Israel has been building settlements in the West Bank since 1968, and now has 123 authorized settlements and 102 unauthorized settlement outposts on the West Bank. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has plans to build additional settlements in the near future. The Israeli settlements take land and jobs from the Palestinians, as well as create economic, social and environmental problems too complex to go into here.  And, as agreed to by the international community, they are not legal.

This is a divisive issue, with some believing that since Israel is our ally, we should be committed to supporting them no matter what, and others believing that we must offer our support only where it makes sense to do so.  I am of the latter thought, that we should help Israel, but that they cannot simply continue making themselves at home on land that belongs to Palestinians, blocking Palestinians from driving on the roads they build, and other offenses, especially in light of the fact that their moves are in defiance of international law.

I also understand and respect the opposing view — there are far more grey areas than clearly defined black-and-white ones, and I could almost argue either side.  What I do NOT respect is people who claim that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are failing our ally, are being disrespectful of Israel, and even that they are anti-Semitic, when those people do not even begin to understand the situation and have not bothered to learn.  I am tired of people weighing in on extremely complex issues with simplistic one-liners.  It shows a lack of intelligence and a lack of respect. As I said at the beginning of this post, the situation is too complex for me to do it justice, and in truth, there are facets that I do not understand despite much reading and years of studying the Middle East.  But at least I have the good sense to keep my mouth shut when I do not understand an issue, or ask somebody who has the knowledge I lack. And that is the purpose of this post — not to attempt to explain a situation about which hundreds of books have been written, but to urge people to try to gain an understanding of a situation before commenting on it.  Just as with the faux news stories, there is danger in sharing silly, over-simplified memes that some will read and assume that every one of the 5 words defining the issue are true!  Okay … Filosofa is stepping down from her soapbox now — for a few hours anyway.

28 thoughts on “On the Israeli Settlements Issue and the U.N. Resolution

  1. oh man! I don’t want to take sides here. In fact I refuse to do that. In my opinion Bill is not being so much disrespectful as perhaps frustrated. I don’t agree with his point of view, but he is expressing a legitimate position of thought. This all has to do with much more than Power and Money…

    Personally I think, for what its worth, that Obama has a definite reason for dropping this bomb in Trump’s lap…putting the new admin into a box The coming historical era or so is going to be very interesting….and although I can’t hope to live through much of it, I admit to being glued to my chair watching the drama unfold. Absolutely anything can happen with these new people coming in….and it will be fascinating to watch!


  2. Dear Jill, Thank you and great job!.

    Many folks are not aware that the 2 state solution goes all the way back to 1937, and has been the U.S. policy through both republican and democratic presidential administrations.

    The key words are as you stated: “The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids an occupying power, in this case Israel, from settling its people in conquered territory. The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention have all affirmed that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply in this case”

    The problem or conflict arises because of the 1967 Six Day War when Israel won control of the following areas, West Bank (consisting in past of Judea and Samaria), Gaza, and Sinai. Sinai was returned to Egypt after an agreement was signed by both Israel and Egypt but Gaza was not. But Jordan never had legal sovereignty over the West Bank or Egypt over Gaza. As a matter of fact, the only group which had sovereign powers over these lands was the Jewish population as per numerous agreements.

    So, obviously, Israel is claiming that the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 rules are null and void.That the republican President-elect should stick his nose into this situation before his time,and at a critical time shows that he knows very little about this area of the world.

    The real reason PM Netanyahu despises President Obama is that the U.S. refused to attack Iran but rather decided to resort to diplomacy.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Gradmama2011,

        I read this in Wikipedia, “The first proposal for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in the British Mandate of Palestine was made in the Peel Commission report of 1937, with the Mandate continuing to cover only a small area containing Jerusalem. The recommended partition proposal was rejected by the Arab community of Palestine, and was accepted by most of the Jewish leadership.

        This problem of the 2 state solution is never ending. Both sides in reality, do not want to accept the existence of the other but they say whatever is necessary to appease public opinion. These are my thoughts only, but ii is what I believe.

        Hugs, Gronda


        • The U.S. interests stem from the May 14, 1948 decision to recognize Israel. The Peel Commission of 1937 report was part of the post-war (I) League of Nations mandate that assigned areas of Palestine The current and existing problem is a product of United States post war politics…our president Harry S Truman is to thank for maybe most of it. http://www.wrmea.org/1991-may-june/truman-adviser-recalls-may-141948-us-decision-to-recognize-israel.html this link spells out the issue. The Peel report was rejected by the British government and subsequently shelved, and the subject became moot over the course of the war with Germany…Truman in 1948 recognized the state of Israel…which then expanded its territory to suit itself in the Six-Day War in 1967.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Dear Gradmama 2011, You are absolutely right as per when U.S. interests began.

            However, the Brits originated the issue with the 1917 Balfour Declaration. A lot of the middle east discontent that we are witnessing today, dates back to the Brits drawing of arbitrary map lines after WWI, without sufficient consideration to the tribes, religious factions, traditions etc dating back centuries.

            Happy New Year and Hugs, Gronda


            • yes, had to do with the old League of Nations I believe. The Brits and French did a lot of damage with their somewhat arbitrary re-drawing of boundaries. This area of the world is not my area of expertise, but the history of those post-war years made a huge impression on me as a young woman. The newspapers and magazines did a thorough job of educating youth who paid attention.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. It is a complex subject and a lot of faults have been made on both sides. But to me it seems that every new settlement is like throwing cans of oil in the flames. And if someone now comes with the argument “the others are doing the same” – then it is still not the way to fight the fire. And that should be the ultimate goal, right? Extinguishing that fire, finding peace for the poor people living in that area – all of them. For that, I still mourn Prime Minister Rabin – there was a chance of peace then.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, extinguishing the fire should be the ultimate goal, but in the end, it all boils down to two things: power and money. Given the history of the Middle East, it seems unlikely that there will ever be peace, but if we stop trying, then the world becomes chaos, so we keep trying to at least manage the chaos. 🙂


  4. Another Pro Obama opinion. Wrong again Jill. How bout we just stab Israel in the back and 50 years of support? And why do you think Obama has had to provide 38 billion in ‘security’ assistance? The Palestinians are not such good neighbors. Your post shows me how you don’t really understand what is going on in that area. You actually sound a lot like Kerry.

    The vote concerning settlements was almost dead and would not have been an issue. In fact, Egypt, the resolution’s original sponsor, withdrew it under pressure from the incoming Trump administration. The president-elect took the unusual step of injecting himself into a U.N. controversy before taking office precisely because the Obama foreign-policy team was broadcasting its intent to abstain.

    Incredibly, however, four nations with precisely zero security interests at stake in the Middle East — New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal — revived the resolution and forced a vote.

    Kerry did not even mention that Jordan was never subjected to international pressure to grant the Palestinians their own state during the 19 years that Jordan occupied Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem; nor did he acknowledge that the Palestinians would long ago have had their own state if they had recognized Israel’s right to exist and abandoned jihadist terror. This is a religious conflict and has been for years.

    Kerry then turns around and accuses the Israeli government of undermining any hope of a two-state solution when that ideal in most peoples mind is now dead. Then Kerry turns around and say “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both.” That is a complete oxymoron. Jews are democratic, unlike the Palestinians who are mostly Muslim and have been violent in their disdain of Israel. Have you forgotten all the carbombings and murders Palestinian radicals have inflicted on the Israeli people? Come on Jill.

    Just like Obamacare and many of his other policies, this is just another failed attempt at Obama trying to broker a peace deal with Israel without even understanding the true Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Trump has nothing to do with these decisions, but it is certainly making his transition harder, especially in the wake of another stupid Obama decision concerning Sanctions against the Russians. Most intelligent people can see this as another ‘sore loser’ move by the Obama administration.


    • Well, I guess I am just stupid as I tend to think our CIA and FBI would not make provocative claims that Russia influenced our election unless they had good reason to do so. You and your intelligent friends must have better data than they do and people like Senators McCain and Graham must be reviewing the wrong intelligence. This stupid voter seems to think we cannot let a man who has influenced other elections get away with influencing ours. The President-elect is an outlier on this issue. That is my two cents as a stupid independent voter. But, what do I know.?

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m sure you see the difference between espionage and voter tampering? Espionage is well documented and nothing new. Voter tampering by Russia has not, and will never be proven to be true, because I believe, it doesn’t exist. So do a lot of others. It’s another media spin on premature intelligence. Trump recently tweeted that he will be meeting with the intelligence community next week to sort it out. McCain and Graham hate Russia and will do anything to tarnish any relationship between the US and Russia. A more diplomatic relationship should exist between the 2 largest powers in the world, don’t you think?


        • That’s it, Once Written (Bill) … I told you a few weeks ago that I will not tolerate disrespect toward either myself or my readers. Discussing opposing viewpoints is one thing, and I encourage that. But you crossed the line into disprespect and I’m done with it. My apologies to Keith and Gronda on your behalf, since I’m certain you will not see yourself as being at fault. I understand now why you are such a Trump fanatic … you are as much a narcissist as he. Please do not comment in this vein on my blog, and if you do, I shall mark your comments as Spam.


        • No one has said that there was tampering with the vote by the Russians. The “tampering” in this whole situation has been the release of often dubious information prior to the election. Also the restrictions of voting places in some states, making the very act of getting to the polls to cast votes, were put in place deliberately to discourage potential Democrat voters. What the Russians are now said to have done (by our intelligence agencies) is meddle in the general atmosphere of U.S. politics….which is muddled enough without outsiders stirring the pot.

          This Israeli thing is very delicate. Personally I believe that the “smash the gnats with a sledgehammer” policies of the Palestinians are overkill….maybe the old Nazi trick of killing 10 men to avenge 1 of their own. I would not even attempt to try to explain the present conflict. I cheer Pres. Obama and SoS Kerry for the veto…..the U.S. has told our allies to cut out the settlement proliferation.


        • First, my apologies for my flippant tone in my earlier response. Of course, I know the difference, but I was not speaking of voter tampering. I was speaking of what Putin has done elsewhere, in his own country and has done here per our CIA and FBI – infiuencing with misinformation, disinformation and hacking are the issues here. The press and President-elect’s team read from daily email feeds of his opposition. This trickle down approach had an effect on undecided voters, but we will never know the extent. Irrespective of who benefitted, that does not appeal to my sense of fairness. Even Senator Marco Rubio commented that it could be the GOP the next time.

          As for McCain and Graham, they are not alone as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan among many other Republicans and Democrats have joined the chorus that the Russians need to be punished for interference. Quite simply, we cannot permit a foreign entity to interfere in our election, regardless of who won. Trump will become our new President, but he needs to start acting more like a leader of the United States when he takes office. He has already violated past practice by intervening before he takes office. Right now, he is the President-elect and not President.

          Those are my thoughts. I hope you have a great 2017. And, I do hope our new President follows through with a few things that I think will be good for the US, like infrastructure investment. Keith

          Liked by 2 people

          • No need for you to apologize … you did nothing wrong … in fact, you responded more calmly and intelligently than I could have at that point. You know I value your opinions. I think we may have seen the last of the troll, as I blocked his last several comments and he said he was tired of my “stupidity and ignorance” so he thought he would unfollow my blog. I think he only read it so he could argue anyway, and that would have been okay, but the condescension and rudeness was not. I’m not thin-skinned, but I don’t tolerate disrespect, especially toward my readers, many of whom I think of as friends, like yourself. And yes, it is going to be an interesting year … he could do some things right, but I’m not holding my breath.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Keith, I apologize for the ugly comments by Once Written. In the future, all such comments will be marked as spam. I value your friendship and your thoughts and opinions are always relevant and spot on. Again, please accept my apologies for my troll.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jill, you are so kind. What troubles me is you have taken great strides to do research and offer an informed opinion. If someone disagrees with that opinion, that is OK, but namecalling and labelling are not called for. The middle portion of the comment I responded to was reasonable discourse whether one agrees with it or not, but it followed a slam at the beginning and slams at the end. Civil discourse is more than fine, but telling folks that intelligent folks agree with a point of view implying the opposite view is held by stupid people is not.

          Keep doing what you are doing. Gronda does the same type of research on her blog. Both of you do a service to the issues. I do want to apologize for the flippant tone I used in my response.

          Best regards, my friend, Keith

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks for your kind and supportive words, Keith … it means a lot. Civil discourse seems to be a thing of the past for many, and I am so thankful that 99% of my readers are thinkers who are capable of disagreeing without being crude and crass. Best to you also, my friend!


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