Trump completes the trifecta of actions that redefine the Zionist movement and de-internationalize the Arab-Israeli conflict
Secretary of State Pompeo acting on behalf of the Trump administration reversed yesterday, November 18, 2019 a longstanding policy to which the US (among other countries) had adhered since the Carter administration in the late 1970s. This policy stated that any “settlements”, i.e. towns or villages Israel builds in territories it had “occupied” as the result of the 1967 Six Day War “violate international law”. These territories included the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the so-called West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, as well as the old city of Jerusalem.
The origins of this policy lie in the part of the Geneva Conventions dating back to the post World War I period, which stipulates that a country that has acquired enemy territory as a result of military action regardless of how that military action came about must not settle these “occupied territories”, rather administering them on behalf of the civilian population that had previously resided in them until their status can be resolved via negotiations and receive the stamp of approval of the international community.
This stipulation was the result of the desire by the victors of WWI, Great Britain and France to set in stone as it were the manufactured boundaries of the many new countries that came into being as the direct outcome of that conflict, countries such as Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, to name but a few.
When applying this policy to the results of the Six Day War, several clarifications are in order. First, while Israel was the first to open fire, it did so only after repeated violations by Egypt of the freedom of navigation for Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal, which was a commitment Egypt had made eleven years earlier, during the 1956 attempt by Britain and France to regain control of the canal from the Egyptian socialist dictator Gamal Al Nasser. Israel, then only eight years old, was asked by the European powers to help in their endeavor by taking the Sinai peninsula and securing the east bank of the canal, which it did only to be forced out by President Eisenhower who also forced the Europeans out of their positions along the western bank of the canal and returned the situation to status quo ante. In order to facilitate the withdrawal by the Europeans and their Israeli allies, Eisenhower made the Soviet ruler Khrushchev to get his client state Egypt to commit to full freedom of navigation in the Suez canal for all nations, including Israel.
Starting in the mid 1960s, Egypt violated this agreement and blockaded Israeli shipping to the Red Sea port of Eilat while at the same time building up a significant military presence in the Sinai on Israel’s southern border. At the same time, Egypt’s ally Syria was constantly shelling Israeli civilians living on the eastern bank of the Sea of Galilee from its positions high up on the Golan heights. By the summer of 1967, the belligerent posture of Egypt and Syria and their blatant violations of their international agreements where it came to Israel, violations that went unchecked by the Americans, the Soviets, and the Europeans, left Israel no choice but to preemptively attack. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan joined the war on the Arab side out of solidarity, a move it came to regret.
The brilliant Israeli victory in that conflict resulted in the creation of the above-mentioned “occupied territories” and Israel proceeded without delay to settle them all with Israeli Jews. That being said, the territories taken from the Arab states in 1967 did not all look the same from the Zionist perspective of rebuilding a home for Jews on their ancestral lands. The Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip were never parts of any ancient Israelite or Judean polity, while the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria, to say nothing of the Old City of Jerusalem, most certainly were.
These territories also significantly differed in terms of the density of the Arab populations that resided in them in 1967. The Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights were substantially devoid of human habitation; the Sinai due to its inhospitable desert terrain and the Golan Heights because Syria had converted the strategic plateau into one big military base from which to wage war against Israel and had forcibly removed its civilian population. The Gaza Strip and the “West Bank”, in contrast, contained major Arab population centers, both having been the recipients of Arab refugee flows from the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.
Over the ensuing decades, continued Syrian intransigence and persistence with its hostile stance towards Israel as well the Golan Heights’ incomparable strategic importance had made it all but unthinkable that this territory would ever leave Israeli control under any set of circumstances. Thus a super-majority of the Knesset annexed the territory to Israel in 1981, though this action has never been recognized by any foreign entity until the US, under the leadership of president Trump had done so in 2018.
In contrast, the courageous peace overture by Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, an overture that had cost him his life, as well as the lack of historical significance of the Sinai Peninsula to the Zionist movement led to the return of the entire territory to Egypt and the removal of all Israelis living there as part of a comprehensive peace agreement between the two states, an agreement that was signed in 1979 and is still alive and well today.
The Gaza strip, strategically located, but densely populated by Arabs had proved an unpopular choice to keep under Israeli control and thus it was cleared of all Israeli settlements and Israeli citizens and full control of it was given to the “Palestinian” authority, which had since lost it to the Hamas Islamic radicals.
The old city of Jerusalem, also known as East Jerusalem was never really a bone of contention in Israeli public opinion. Its loss to the Jordanians in 1948 was the greatest tragedy of the War of Independence after its nearly ten thousand Jewish casualties and when it was rectified in 1967 and the Temple Mount with the adjoining Western Wall were liberated, it was clear that they would be parts of Israel forever and that this particular act of liberation would forever be the crowning achievement of the Zionist movement.
Jewish settlement activity in the territories east of Jerusalem known by the rest of the world as the “West Bank” and by Israelis as Judea and Samaria has always been a bone of contention within Israeli society. Many believed that since these areas were the true ancestral home of the Jewish people, they must be settled, or rather resettled by Jews. Others thought that this would make reaching an accommodation with the Arab population knows as the “Palestinians” difficult or impossible. The Arabs waged a successful terror and public relations campaigns to simultaneously terrorize and guilt Israelis and non-Israelis alike to recognize their rights to these territories, a campaign that led to the late 1990s Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
In Israel, the voices that saw in Judea and Samaria integral and crucial parts of any future Israel had been slowly prevailing and thus the “settlement” activity continued and grew by leaps and bounds. The views of those Israelis who opposed the Oslo Accords because they never believed that the Arabs had any desire to live side by side with Jews, but rather to eliminate them from their homeland had been vindicated when the Palestinian Authority under the archetypal terrorist Yasser Arafat wasted no time in engaging in a brutal suicide terror campaign against Israeli civilians not in the so-called “occupied territories”, but in Haifa and Tel-Aviv.
Today it is clear that the territory known as the West Bank is in no way an “occupied territory” as defined by the Geneva Convention. The political entity that it was “conquered” from in 1967, Jordan, does not claim it or want anything to do with it. These territories are the subject of a dispute between the Jewish and the Arab populations of the Holy Land, a dispute that has been going on for well over a century, ever since the first Zionists started the repatriation process of the Jewish diaspora back to their ancestral homeland.
It is thus also clear that just as no Arab settlement can be said to violate international law, so no Jewish settlement may be thus accused. There can be no law that stops Jews from resettling the places in which they first became a nation in the time of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). President Trump’s courageous recognition of this fact completes the trifecta of his actions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Trump’s actions have tremendous historical and symbolic value, of course, but they also have far-reaching practical implications. While there are rabidly anti-Semitic (they would say anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli) countries in the European Union and elsewhere, there are many countries small and large, from Honduras to India to Brazil that still take their cues from the US and see great potential in doing business with Israel. The American repudiation of the anti-Israeli stances by the so-called “international” community render them all but impotent and open the doors to even stronger integration of the modern state of Israel into the international business community.
The latest action also opens the door to rectifying a miscarriage of justice wherein Israelis living within a few miles and in some cases less than that from each other on opposite sides of the imaginary “Green Line” separating “pre-1967 Israel” from the “West Bank” are subject to two different set of laws and regulations; the former to the civilian Israeli laws as passed by the Knesset and the latter to the rules of the military governor of Judea and Samaria. The recognition that Jews have as much if not more right to reside in Judea and Samaria as anyone else opens the door to extending Israeli law and full civilian authority over the quarter million or so Jewish Israelis living there, a move that is as inevitable as it is overdue.
And no, this move will not result in either the institution of an “apartheid” regime nor the inclusion of Arabs from Judea and Samaria into the Israeli voter rolls. For the residents of Judea and Samaria, the situation will be unambiguous: Jews will vote in Israeli elections for the Knesset and Arabs will vote in Palestinian elections for their own legislative assembly whenever such elections are called. Both the Jewish and Arab populations in the “West Bank” are already enjoying self rule; Jews as part of Israel and Arabs as part of the autonomous Palestinian Authority. This is the way it should be and neither group is in violation of any international laws. Territorial disputes can and will be settled by bilateral negotiations between the two parties and no one else, which is the way it should be.
In summary, we can simply say that president Trump is leading a commonsensical nationalist policy that recognizes each nation’s right to self determination and strives to avoid the internationalization of national and regional disputes. Trump is undoubtedly and provably correct in saying that such internationalization pours gasoline on the fire and often reignites embers that were just about to be extinguished, leading to untold misery, death, migration flows, and atrocious waste of treasure. The US can and must project its power abroad to guarantee its commercial and political interests, but this aim is best accomplished by assisting in rebuilding a world that securely rests on the timeless foundation of the nation-state, not the homogenization and commoditization of humanity as per the globalist agenda.