Happy West Bank Settlers

Harvard Professor of International Affairs, Stephen M. Walt, observed in an essay today at his Foreign Policy blog niche:

You might read Isabel Kershner’s New York Times piece on the eviction of an Israeli settler family from an illegal outpost in Hebron. The kicker, of course, is that the removal of one settler family was accompanied by an announcement that the Netanyahu government had authorized construction of 800 new homes in Har Homa and Givat Zeev, and intended “to seek the necessary permits to retroactively legalize three other West Bank settler outposts that went up without authorization.” And lest you be confused about the Netanyahu government’s intentions, here’s what Netanyahu himself had to say about it (my emphasis):

The principle that has guided me is to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Today, I instructed that the status of three communities — Bruchim, Sansana, and Rechalim — be provided for. I also asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to see to it that the Ulpana hill in Beit El not be evacuated. This is the principle that has guided us. We are strengthening Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and we are strengthening the Jewish community in Hebron, the City of the Patriarchs. But there is one principle that we uphold. We do everything according to the law and we will continue to do so.”

So Netanyahu’s aim is clear: keeping control of the West Bank forever. And the reference to “doing everything according to the law” is revealing, because “law” here means the law of the occupation, which is the same law that has allowed a half a million Israelis to move onto the territories conquered in 1967 over the past forty years.

International law and international consensus on the Occupied Territories of the West Bank are clear on the subject (Wikipedia footnotes retained):

Since 1979 the United Nations Security Council,[68] the United Nations General Assembly,[69] the United States,[70] the EU,[71] the International Court of Justice,[72] and the International Committee of the Red Cross[73] refer to the West Bank as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel. General Assembly resolution 58/292 (17 May 2004) affirmed that the Palestinian people have the right to sovereignty over the area.[74]

Supporters of the Israeli right[who?] have argued that since the area has never in modern times been an independent state, there is no legitimate claimant to the area other than the present occupier, Israel. This argument however is not accepted by the international community and international lawmaking bodies, virtually all of whom regard Israel’s activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an occupation that denies the fundamental principle of self-determination found in the Article One of the United Nations Charter, and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsand the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Further, UN Security Council Resolution 242 notes the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” regardless of whether the war in which the territory was acquired was offensive or defensive. Prominent Israeli human rights organizations such as B’tselem also refer to the Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an occupation.[75] John Quigleyhas noted that “…a state that uses force in self-defense may not retain territory it takes while repelling an attack. If Israel had acted in self-defense, that would not justify its retention of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Under the UN Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. The response of other states to Israel’s occupation shows a virtually unanimous opinion that even if Israel’s action were defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was not.”[76]

International law (Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) prohibits “transfers of the population of an occupying power to occupied territories”, incurring a responsibility on the part of Israel’s government to not settle Israeli citizens in the West Bank.[77]

Some countries, including Brazil,[78] El Salvador,[79] and Argentina,[80] recognize the State of Palestine and consider the West Bank to be territory of that state.

Clearly, the Israeli government intends to continue to support expansion of the illegal settlements.  At the same time, the Israeli military administration consistently pursues destruction and degradation of Palestinian farms, water resources, outlying communities and infrastructure in most parts of the West Bank.  When looked at overall, Israeli policies are solidly in the realm of the definition of apartheid:  ”any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.”

In the USA, AIPAC, J Street and even Norman Finkelstein stand by their belief in the viability of the so-called “two-state solution.”  When asked to define what that might represent in physical terms, J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami, here at a firedoglake Book Salon, uttered the predictable definition or non-definition of what that might be:

The Palestinian people (in Gaza and the West Bank) need their freedom and independence – and the Israeli people within their borders need security. So we believe that Israel should immediately move toward a two-state solution that grants real freedom to the Palestinian people.

I have come to believe a two-state solution is unachievable.  Ever.  I am tired of hearing platitudes and dissimulation, when people attempt to describe what a potential rump Palestinian State, or collections of Bantustans surrounded by hedgehog Judean and Samarian hilltop clusters would be.

When I show up at events hosted by professional Zionists, Israeli consular officials or their like, if I ask to be shown the ultimate map, there is none.

What do you think?