Why Obama gave in on Israeli Settlements in Jerusalem: Eric Cantor, Ros-Lehtinen Channel Israeli Right on Usurpation of Holy City, Displacement of Palestinians

Why in the world would the Obama administration put forward a proposal to the Israelis that allows them to continue to build illegal new squatter settlements in what the Israelis call the district of Jerusalem on Palestinian land while asking them to refrain from starting new settlements on the West Bank? The Palestinians complain that they are being asked to negotiate over a cake while the Israelis are cutting off pieces of it and gobbling it down, during the supposed talks over who gets what piece!

One answer for the naked cowardice of the Obama proposals is that the administration is being outflanked by the Republican House of Representatives, whose leaders are openly pledging allegiance to Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and vowing to undermine the American president in his favor. (A denial by Eric Cantor that he was talking about Israel relations when he pledged to block Obama is not plausible, since he specifically mentioned relations with Israel in the body of his statement!) Nobody who does not see the sorts of things the Right Zionists in Congress say on the House floor could possibly believe it.

We don’t have to guess what Cantor’s positions are on the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on the possible shape of a Palestinian state, in which East Jerusalem would be the capital. He is against it:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Jerusalem) makes a series of false and propagandistic assertions on the House floor that may as well have been read off Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s teleprompter. These assertions urge and support direct violations of international law and of UN Security Council Resolutions.

Israel’s alteration of the ways of life and situation of Palestinian-Israelis in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli occupation, is illegal in international law (Hague Convention of 1907, 4th Geneva Convention, 1949). Israel’s claim to have annexed Jerusalem by virtue of military force contradicts the United Nations Charter, which forbids acquisition of territory by warfare after 1945 (the Nazis gave that sort of thing a bad name), along with several UN Security Council resolutions to the same effect. For more on the illegality of it all, see see Stephen Zunes.

So here is what the world’s highest legal authority actually says about Israeli policies in Jerusalem and the other territories Israel aggressively occupied from the Palestinians, in UNSC Resolution 476:

‘Adopted by the Security Council at its 2242th meeting, on 30 June 1980

The Security Council,

Having considered the letter of 28 May 1980 from the representative of Pakistan, the current Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as contained in document S/13966 of 28 May 1980,

Reaffirming that acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible,

Bearing in mind the specific status of Jerusalem and, in particular, the need for protection and preservation of the unique spiritual and religious dimension of the Holy Places in the city,

Reaffirming its resolutions relevant to the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular resolutions 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, 267 (1969) of 3 July 1969, 271 (1969) of 15 September 1969, 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971 and 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980,

Recalling the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,

Deploring the persistence of Israel, in changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,

Gravely concerned over the legislative steps initiated in the Israeli Knesset with the aim of changing the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,

1. Reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem;

2. Strongly deplores the continued refusal of Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly;

3. Reconfirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

4. Reiterates that all such measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council;

5. Urgently calls on Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by this and previous Security Council resolutions and to desist forthwith from persisting in the policy and measures affecting the character and status of the Holy city of Jerusalem;

6. Reaffirms its determination in the event of non-compliance by Israel with this resolution, to examine practical ways and means in accordance with relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations to secure the full implementation of this resolution.’

Just as Saddam Hussein of Iraq thumbed his nose at UNSC resolutions, which the Neocons said made it legitimate to wage war on Iraq, so the Israeli government has completely ignored the Security Council on Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. Yet Israeli leaders have acted with impunity and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is not treated as a pariah for waging propaganda war against the UNSC resolutions and trying to get the US Congress to break the law, as well.

Here is UN Security Council resolution 478, which absolutely condemns Israeli attempts to annex all of Jerusalem and orders the nations of the world to withdraw their embassies from Jerusalem. It is the UNSC that authorized sanctions on Iran, and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen insists we all obey those, but UNSC resolutions she disagrees with, she just ignores.

Having been blown off, the Security Council spoke on the matter again:

‘ Adopted by the Security Council at its 2245th meeting, on 20 August 1980 (14-0, US abstention)

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolution 476 (1980),

Reaffirming again that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible,

Deeply concerned over the enactment of a “basic law” in the Israeli Knesset proclaiming a change in the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, with its implications for peace and security,

Noting that Israel has not complied with resolution 476 (1980),

Reaffirming its determination to examine practical ways and means, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, to secure the full implementation of its resolution 476 (1980), in the event of non-compliance by Israel,

1. Censures in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the “basic law” on Jerusalem and the refusal to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions;

2. Affirms that the enactment of the “basic law” by Israel constitutes a violation of international law and does not affect the continued application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since June 1967, including Jerusalem;

3. Determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith;

4. Affirms also that this action constitutes a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

5. Decides not to recognize the “basic law” and such other actions by Israel that, as a result of this law, seek to alter the character and status of Jerusalem and calls upon:

(a) All Member States to accept this decision;

(b) Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the implementation of the present resolution before 15 November 1980;

7. Decides to remain seized of this serious situation.’

For how nice it is for Palestinian-Israelis in East Jerusalem to be under Israeli occupation, see Aljazeera English:

Jewish squatters in Jerusalem seek expulsion of all Palestinian-Israelis:

For Israeli interference with Muslim worship in Jerusalem, see this Aljazeera video:

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen voiced a series of falsehoods. Whether she knows the truth and is deliberately suppressing it, or is engaging in a disinformation campaign, is impossible to know. What is clear is that she is a vigilante urging the violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, i.e., urging the recognition of the conquest of territory by military means and the vast alteration of occupied territories by the occupier. That is, she is maintaining the legitimacy of the kind of behavior exhibited by the Axis Powers in World War II, a repeat of which is what the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the UNSC resolutions were aiming to prevent.

It is like having a congressperson who thought South African Apartheid policies were not only just fine, but actually should be firmly supported by the US Congress. It is frightening.

20 Responses

  1. This Cantor guy must be something, he has the supposedly most powerful politician in the USA, running scared without so much as a toothless yelp?

    Not that Obama needs much encouragement to allegedly turn colour. If the jpost report below is factual, a less timid (i.e. sans Cantors unnerving influence) Obama is giving up all plus the kitchen sink, just to tide Netanyahu over an excruciating three-month “freeze”* on land grabbing.
    *(probably meaning a pause on pouring new foundations, as construction already in progress continues. The $64K question is, what happens after the 90th day when (not if) the peace joke falls flat?).

    In an effort to convince the Netanyahu government to impose a three-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank, the Obama administration offered Israel last week a long list of security and diplomatic benefits, including 20 F-35s for free.
    link to jpost.com

  2. I’ve been reading an article by Michael Hudson “Obama’s Greatest Betrayal
    The Coming Sell-Out to the Super Rich and What It Means for the Rest of Us”
    link to counterpunch.com
    and only got to the end of the 5th paragraph where I found something I think you may find interesting, but most likely you already knew. Well, duh, I didn’t know that Obama’s Senate mentor was Joe Lieberman. Took my breath away just a bit.

  3. I can see how this deal is good for Israel, and Israel and also Israel.
    I fail to see what is in it for the United States or the Palestinians.
    Am I the only one that is having problems reconciling Obama’s
    rhetoric with his actions?

  4. Dear Professor Cole

    Thank you for your important and valuable analysis. Watching the situation in Jerusalem is like watching a slow fuse burn down towards a powder keg.

    You echo Hew Strachan in his piece in the Telegraph a few weeks ago.

    link to telegraph.co.uk

    However, scenarios for world wars are not hard to find. Israel’s tensions with its neighbours are such that the latest peace initiative is provoking more scepticism than hope. Conflict in the Middle East is likely to involve Iran, a state which refuses to be coerced by Washington. Iran in turn could unite a war in the Middle East with the war in Afghanistan. Once the fuse has been lit, it runs eastwards through Pakistan to India and China, south to Iraq, and north to the “stans”.

    This is a messier way of understanding the onset of major war than we have become used to. Shaped by the final stages of the Second World War, our idea of major war is a global war waged by superpowers, fighting in the name of irreconcilable ideologies, and ready to fight to the finish. We throw in the use of nuclear weapons for good measure. That may have been how the Second World War ended, but it is not how it began. Major wars can begin as an aggregation of lesser wars. Even the most power-crazed tyrant prefers to fight in bite-sized chunks in successive smaller wars.

    Despite being in the fourth or fifth century since the Enlightenment there are still bands of of fundamentalists who are as inflexible on the interpretation of ancient texts as the Inquisition was at the time of Galileo. The Torah has no standing in International Law.

    Of particular worry, regarding the Judaisation of Jerusalem, are the people of questionable sanity who propose to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the site of the Haram al Sharif. This would provoke the widest outbreak of shooting seen for fifty years as hundreds of millions of offended Muslims react to the sacrilege. The last gasp of the Israeli state as it is overrun would be to launch nuclear weapons at its neighbours leaving much of the Middle East a contaminated wasteland. (and killing me if I am in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Amman, Riyadh or Isfahan or Dubai). link to freerepublic.com

    One of the underlying causes of the Thirty Years War was the obsolescence of the Treaty of Augsburg. The Israeli non compliance with the terms of the Hague and Geneva Conventions and with a stream of UNSCR indicates we are seeing a similar breakdown.

    The breakdown of the arrangements of the Treaty of Vienna led to the outbreak of shooting now known as the First World War, ably and readably described by Professor Strachan. link to history.ox.ac.uk

    So it is now time to curb and disarm the Israelis and remove their offensive weapons and capability before they start a conflagration that gets a lot of us killed and destroys a great deal of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, that spreads through the Balkans to the Muslim minorites in Western Europe.

    If outside military intervention is required to remove the squatters from Palestinian territory then so be it.

  5. “Ros-Lehtinen voiced a series of falsehoods. Whether she knows the truth and is deliberately suppressing it, or is engaging in a disinformation campaign, is impossible to know. What is clear is that she is a vigilante urging the violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, i.e., urging the recognition of the conquest of territory by military means and the vast alteration of occupied territories by the occupier. That is, she is maintaining the legitimacy of the kind of behavior exhibited by the Axis Powers in World War II, a repeat of which is what the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the UNSC resolutions were aiming to prevent.”

    Ros Lehtinen knows exactly what she is doing. Violations of the Geneva Convention, UN resolutions, International Court of Justice decisions Ros Lehtinen, Cantor Schumer etc say who cares, toss all aside. Israel is a special case.

    Ros Lehtinen, Cantor, Schumer should be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    Would really be something if Obama was to ever really stand up to Israel and the I lobby. He would be a one term Pres for sure

  6. Fair enough.

    But this is a bipartisan rap. The vile Chuck Schumer is just as fervent, or servile, take your pick, when it comes to Zionism.

    Interventionist internationalism is the common coin of both parties. The differences are mere nuances.

  7. This Cantor guy must be something, he has the supposedly most powerful politician in the USA, running scared without so much as a toothless yelp?

    He’s the only Republican member of the House who is Jewish. His district is in the Bible Belt, so includes a lot of fundamentalist Christians. Hence, I would presume that Cantor’s positions with respect to Israel reflect the views of his constituents. The irony is that Cantor’s district encompasses the domiciles of Jefferson and Madison, who would surely be appalled to find themselves amidst such backwardness.

  8. An important essay, for sure. I am astonished and deeply saddened however at the anti-Arab anti-Palestinian sentiment I hear about me from ordinary people.

    • Me, too. But people hate Arabs and Muslims because of acts of terrorism committed by a few, who were radicalized primarily by Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. Americans don’t walk it back to ask why these Arab/Muslim individuals were so angry, preferring to accept infantile rationales like “they hate our freedom” and not “they hate the way we prop up the zionist oppressors.”

      Education is never an easy task, particularly when the American news media is controlled by right wing-dominated owners who make money from the defense industry. But it’s the 21st century! It’s about time Americans actually got smarter, better informed, and accepted that people in other countries are easily as bright and human as we ourselves (imagine ourselves to be.)

  9. (I am referring to several discussions I listened to in the last 2 weeks at a supposedly liberal church.)

  10. According to the WPost several years ago, Dems get 60% of their campaign funds from Jewish donors…support of Israel is the string attached.
    Since I am way past politically correctness let me point out these people, Jews and non Jews, dems and repubs, alike are actually traitors. Period.

    But since a lot of Americans can’t see the forest for the trees..they will continue to meekly vote both parties in and out , in and out, wondering why nothing ever changes for the better.

    • Throughout the history of the US the two major parties have always been on the same side of all important issues: prosecution og the native americans, slavery, woman’s suffrage, imprerial wars, Iraq and Afghanistan misadventure, torture, rendition, targeted killing, Vietnam, Palestine…….

  11. Has it occurred to anyone to look at the power another country has, essentially, which extends beyond a regional conflict that superficially has little/no impact on US national security?

    It is true the massive US loans, grants, and guarantees, that have been granted due to this special relationhsip are something the US can afford, if for no other purpose than PR and Goodwill, or as an indulgence. And, objectively, whether one ethnic group or another occupies that small part of the levant does not impact the US one whit.

    However, when a foreign country directly or indirectly holds hostage/manipulates US foreign policy, resulting in US actions that are not in its strategic best interests, the thing need to be called for what it is: a national security threat.

  12. Obama has so little to look forward to legislatively or by way of re-election that the best path (or at least the statesmanlike path) would be to abandon re-election and legislation (and thus all personal need for fund-raising and concomitant slavery) and then use the UNSC to gather international pressure on Israel to either end the occupation or make its “legal” by removal of all settlers, dismantlement of all settlements and the wall, etc., say within 1-year (or 6-months).

    I cannot think of any step which would be more roundly applauded by peaceable Americans or American admirers of the rule-of-law. And I cannot think of any step so apparently anodyne (just enforcing the law, nothing arbitrary here, no dictation of peace terms here) so likely to make the Israelis see that making a just and lasting peace was in their interest.

    And conversely, I can think of nothing so likely to stiffen the Israeli back against a just and lasting peace (if that is presently possible) as to condone any settlements, and especially those in so-called Jerusalem.

    • “the best path (or at least the statesmanlike path) would be to abandon re-election and legislation (and thus all personal need for fund-raising and concomitant slavery) and then use the UNSC to gather international pressure on Israel ….”

      But then you are assuming that Obama really wants to do the right thing. That’s a big assumption that is not supported by any facts…..

    • Here, here!

      I’m going to call/write and tell him so. Ditto for my Congressional delegation. They might as well leave office fighting for what’s right.

  13. Is it completely ironical that the US Senate was the instrument to finally put the UN into action?! ‘July 28, 1945 H.S.Truman voiced delight with the Senate’s UN vote: “The action of the Senate substantially advances the cause of world peace.” Joseph Grew, acting as secretary of state, also lauded the Senate’s action noting that “millions of men, women and children have died because nations took to the naked sword instead of the conference table to settle their differences.”‘

    “We have met the enemy and he is us”

    The Bible prophecy in Rev. (I paraphrase) describes an eighth king that springs from the seventh world power– the UN which springs from the US/Gt.Brit dual world power–perhaps this beast will have to overpower its makers for the seemingly good for all.

  14. what if anything will the Arabs do. Nothing, if the past is any clue. Israel is counting on that with the settling of the West Band and destruction of Jerusalem into a Jews Only city. Watching America go hand in hand with the Israelis is what “bipartisanship” means to Obama, apparently.

    Assuming the Israelis keep on “believing” the way they do, they will eventualy find some set of “intransigents” who refuse to obey the Israeli dictates. In the excuse of Jewish exceptionalism, and history of genocide, the Israelis are proving Ben Franklin’s adage of ” those who sacrifice liberty for security deserved neither and lose both.”

    watching the Arabs let Israel do unto the Palestinians whatever they want, shows how the Israelis have gradually taken over of Palestine and Palestinians. No contest from the Arabs. just complete submission to Israeli domination, with US help of course.

    a New World Order, indeed.

  15. Abbas should refuse to return to negotiations unless the construction freeze also includes areas of Jerusalem that were captured in 1967.

Comments are closed.