White House warns Israel on settlements

Trump was reportedly blindsided by Israel’s announcement of 5,500 new housing units to be built in the West Bank

Jordan Fabian, The Hill, 02/02/17

The White House on Thursday warned Israel to stop settlement announcements that could undermine peace with the Palestinians, according to the Jerusalem Post. 

The surprising statement comes as President Trump signaled he would depart from former President Obama’s Israel policy and forge a close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong proponent of settlements. 

But Trump was reportedly blindsided by Israel’s announcement of 5,500 new housing units to be built in the West Bank, which would have been the first new settlement in around 20 years. 

“As President Trump has made clear, he is very interested in reaching a deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is currently exploring the best means of making progress toward that goal,” an official told the paper. 

“With that in mind, we urge all parties from taking unilateral actions that could undermine our ability to make progress, including settlement announcements,” the official added. “The administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.”

In a separate statement Thursday, the White House made clear its opposition to the recent burst of settlement activity. But in a departure from the Obama administration, the statement does not call settlements an impediment to a two-state solution.

“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

“The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

Trump’s election is believed to have emboldened Netanyahu’s government, which has moved aggressively to expand its settlement activity.  

Netanyahu is set to meet with Trump at the White House on Feb. 15. 

Trump signaled during the transition he would make moves to align the U.S. closer with Israel’s government.  

He announced his intent to nominate David Friedman, a strong settlement supporter, as ambassador to the Jewish state.

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David Friedman Is Unfit to Be Ambassador to Israel

, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 31 Jan 2017

DavidFriedman

Donald Trump’s first ten days in office have resulted in a whirlwind of policies that have led to major protests, from blocking refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, to ordering a wall built on the US-Mexico border, to moving forward with the Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipelines, to name just a few.

Amid his flurry of Executive Orders, you may have missed the fact that on Inauguration Day, Trump formally submitted to the Senate his nomination of David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel.

In case you haven’t heard of Friedman, here’s what you need to know:

He personally identifies with Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land and raises millions of dollars each year to fund an Israeli settlement.

He opposes Palestinian exercising sovereignty over any portion of their historic homeland and speaks approvingly of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

And he’s an ardent advocate of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the entire contested city.

These extremist views and actions contradict decades of stated bipartisan US policy. Our ambassador to Israel must uphold US opposition to Israeli settlements, not represent Israel’s settler movement.

Contact your Senators today to tell them that David Friedman is unfit to be Ambassador to Israel and urge them to vote against his nomination.

And after you do so, please spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Here are a few select quotes illustrating Friedman’s extremist views:

  • The idea of a Palestinian state is a “damaging anachronism. It is a discussion of an illusory solution in search of a non-existent problem.” Friedman conspiratorially holds that US support for Palestinian statehood is part of a “scam” designed to “access the wealth of the Persian Gulf.”
  • “As a general rule, we should expand a community in Judea and Samaria,” Friedman writes, using the Biblical terms for the West Bank, “just like in any other neighborhood anywhere in the world. Until that becomes the primary consideration for development, how can we expect to be taken seriously that this is our land?”

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TAKE ACTION: Congress to Vote on Pro-Settlement Resolution!

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 04 January 2017

By now you’ve probably heard that President Obama—after waiting eight years and watching Israel’s settler population increase by more than 100,000—finally did something about Israel’s unrelenting colonization of Palestinian land.

On December 23, the United States abstained on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reiterated that Israeli settlement activity “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” This abstention allowed the resolution to pass, 14-0.

The resolution is consistent with fifty years of stated bipartisan US opposition to Israeli settlements and recapitulates the international community’s longstanding consensus on this issue. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the resolution “does not break new ground.

Nevertheless, some Members of Congress are indignant that the Obama administration allowed the resolution to pass, even though it doesn’t even threaten to sanction Israel if it refuses to comply.

Tomorrow, as one of its very first acts of business in the new 115th Congress, the House of Representatives will vote on H.Res.11 objecting to UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and the Obama administration’s abstention.

And from what we’re hearing, the Senate will soon be voting on its own version of a similar resolution.

Call your Members of Congress right now and urge them to oppose these Congressional resolutions, which are designed to protect and promote Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian land.

    Rep. Pocan Madison: 608-258-9800
    Rep. Pocan DC: 202-225-2906
    Sen. Baldwin Madison: (608) 264-5338
    Sen. Baldwin DC: (202) 224-5653
    Sen. Johnson DC: (202) 224-5323

We may not be able to stop these resolutions from passing, but Members of Congress who oppose Israeli settlements need to hear from their constituents to give them the political backing they’ll need to speak and vote against them.

Click here for talking points that you can use in your phone calls and for text of the House resolution (the Senate version isn’t publicly available yet).

After the UN vote, Secretary Kerry explained: “If we had vetoed this resolution just the other day, the United States would have been giving license to further unfettered settlement construction that we fundamentally oppose.”

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Diana Buttu & Gideon Levy on Israeli Settlements, Kerry, Military Aid & End of Two-State Solution

Democracy Now! December 30, 2016

Guests
Diana Buttu — attorney based in Palestine. She has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel. She was previously an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gideon Levy — Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. His new article is titled "UN Resolution is a Breath of Hope in Sea of Darkness and Despair." Levy is also the author of The Punishment of Gaza.

Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address on Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. "If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic; it cannot be both," Kerry said. "And it won’t ever really be at peace." Kerry’s speech followed intense Israeli criticism of the U.S. for refusing to veto a Security Council resolution last week. The measure condemns Israel’s expansion of settlements as a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote. The U.S. abstained. We speak to Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu and Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. The truth is that trends on the ground—violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation—they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary Kerry’s speech followed intense Israeli criticism of the U.S. for refusing to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution last week. The measure condemns Israel’s expansion of settlements, a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution passed in a 14-to-0 vote. The U.S. abstained. Kerry insisted the U.S. had not abandoned its longtime ally, but said Israeli democracy would not survive under a single state.

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What the UN Security Council resolution means for the US and Israel

Oren Liebermann, CNN, December 26, 2016

Israel has bitterly denounced the resolution
They warn it harms, not helps, the peace process

Jerusalem (CNN) — The United Nations Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States abstained on the resolution, allowing it to pass, rather than vetoing it — as it usually does with resolutions it sees as overly critical of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned the US ambassador and launched a scathing attack Sunday on the Obama administration.

Here are nine questions about the vote at the UN.

1. What are the immediate effects of the UNSC resolution?

The resolution may have no immediate practical effects on Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the peace process. That’s because the resolution is non-binding, effectively creating guidelines and recommendations. The resolution would require follow-up action at the United Nations for it to have an immediate effect.

Israel is concerned about exactly that type of action. Specifically, Israel is worried about a resolution that would set conditions for negotiations. Such a resolution would issue parameters for some of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including borders, the status of Jerusalem as a contested capital, Palestinian refugees, and a time-limit for negotiations.

An international peace conference in Paris scheduled for January 15 could be the forum for discussing such a resolution. That would give the international community time to introduce the resolution at the United Nations Security Council before the end of President Barack Obama’s time in office. Israel has vowed not to attend the conference. The Palestinians say they will attend.

2. What are the long-term effects?

The biggest blow is to Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This resolution has left little room for negotiation about the legality of the settlements, stating that Israel’s settlements have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”

When it comes to borders, the resolution does leave an opening for negotiations, saying there will be no changes to the June 4, 1967 “other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”
The resolution also calls on countries to recognize a difference between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories when dealing with Israel. That could lead to sanctions against products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Palestinian leaders say they will wait to see if Israel abides by the resolution. If not, they can pursue cases against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court (ICC) under the Geneva Convention. The ICC is already conducting an ongoing investigation into Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

3. Will President-elect Donald Trump be able to repeal the resolution?

Theoretically, yes, the incoming administration could repeal this resolution. Trump would have to introduce a new resolution that revokes this one entirely. Then he would need at least nine countries to vote for it and ensure that none of the Security Council’s other permanent members — Russia, UK, France, and China — vetoed it.

Realistically, that is incredibly unlikely to happen. There is a broad international consensus that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal and that they constitute an obstacle to peace. It is extremely unlikely that Trump would be able to find eight other nations on the Security Council willing to support revoking the new resolution. Even if he did, a permanent member veto is likely.

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New Senate bill threatens free speech

Instead of fighting antisemitism, new Senate bill threatens free speech

Jewish Voice for Peace, 06 December 2016

On Friday, without a single Senator in the Senate Chamber, the Senate unanimously passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act.

Judging by the title, it seems a reasonable enough piece of legislation. And the Anti-Defamation League was one of its main boosters.

But let’s look closer with a short pop quiz about why the ADL is behind this bill:

    A) To make it clear that actual neo-Nazis like the National Policy Institute, now in close proximity to power, are going to face real scrutiny and condemnation?
    B) To help prevent more violence against synagogues and Jewish poeple, like the dozens of instances of hate crimes and vandalism documented since the election?
    C) To protect the Israeli government from student protesters?

Probably the best way to figure out why the ADL supports it is to read what they’re saying themselves:

Sadly, the answer is “C.”

At a time when actual violence and bigotry against Jews is on the rise, Jewish institutions like the ADL are seizing the moment to… protect Israel from student protesters. That’s not acceptable.

We have to make sure Congressional reps hear from a more equality-focused perspective. Click here to send them a note urging them not to be fooled by the ASAA’s title. Enough pretending that defending Israeli policies is the same as fighting antisemitism. It’s time to get down to the actual business of protecting us all – especially Muslims and people of color – from hate.

I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am. “Leading” Jewish institutions have made it clear to they care more about defending Israel’s racist policies than the real slog of fighting antisemitism. Student activists — Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, Black, documented, white, and otherwise —  pose no threat to Jews. The only threat they pose is to the culture of silence around Israeli apartheid.

Attempts to silence human rights activists are always appalling. But in this time of crisis, when actual antisemitism is seeping from our political discourse and into our streets? That is truly disgusting. As Jews and allies we have an outsized voice on this one. Please, click here now and help fight this Orwellian legislation in the House.

And here’s another example: Rep. Keith Ellison is running to become Chair of the DNC. As a 501(c)(3), JVP takes no position on any election, but I will say this: I’ve met Rep. Ellison, and he’s a good and honorable man, utterly devoted to fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism. But he’s also dared to offer modest criticisms of Israeli policy, always condemning hatred at the same time.

For that, he’s been railroaded and smeared by far-right Islamophobic front groups. And here again, the ADL is carrying water for these hatemongers by lending their name and their weight to the attacks against him.

The ADL’s support for the “Antisemitism Awareness Act” and their attacks on Keith Ellison are both proof that their commitment to fighting hatred is an empty shirt. They’re not interested in really taking on antisemitism and islamophobia. They’re only interested in shilling for Israeli apartheid.

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October 6, 2016
Film: Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!

UW-Madison Multicultural Student Center
Red Gym – 2nd Floor
716 Langdon St, Madison, Wisconsin
7:30 pm

Sponsored by UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine.

Film screening of the documentary Pinkwashing Exposed: Seattle Fights Back!, which follows queer activists fighting against Israeli pinkwashing propaganda in their community, providing a strategic primer on intersectional social justice activism.

After the film we will have a friendly discussion about how queer issues and Palestinian issues intersect, and the different opinions and thoughts on the film.