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:
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.