The source of the daylight

Here is the quintessential news story about the ‘daylight’ appearing between the US and Israel. I wrote it myself, but it is based on what I hear on NPR and read in dispatches from wire services like AP. It has been appearing in the pages of my local newspaper in some form or other every day for a week.

The US sharply criticized Israel today for building housing for Jewish settlers in a part of Jerusalem that Palestinians want for the capital of their future state. Officials said that this action was interfering with the start of US-mediated ‘proximity talks’ between Israel and the Palestinians, who refuse to come to the table unless all such construction is stopped. “We are absolutely, firmly, unshakably, immovably committed to Israel’s security,” said a spokesperson, “but these actions expose daylight between the US and Israel which may be exploited by extremists who don’t want to see a solution of the conflict.”

There are variations, of course, depending on the source. The BBC, for example, will always add the phrase “which are illegal under international law” after every mention of ‘settlements’. Left-wing sources will say that Israel is building on ‘Palestinian land’. But the milder formulation is bad enough. It suggests that Israeli intransigence is preventing talks.

Some background: Israel did not take Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem from the Palestinians in 1967. They were occupied by Jordan. Indeed, the Jordanian occupation violated UN GA Resolution 181 of 1947 which said that Judea and Samaria would become part of a Palestinian Arab state and UN GA Resolution 303 of 1949, which called for Jerusalem to be independent, a corpus separatum under international control.

Later, UN SC Resolution 242 called for “secure and recognized” borders to be determined in the context of a peace settlement between Israel and the other belligerents of 1967 but definitely didn’t canonize the 1949 lines. Since then there have been other resolutions and understandings, up to UN SC Resolution 1515 of 2003, which reaffirms 242 and endorses the Road Map. The US position today reflects this: final borders will be determined by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel has been building in Jerusalem since 1967, and annexed all of Jerusalem in 1980. Nevertheless, various Israeli governments have indicated that they would consider ceding some Arab neighborhoods in the context of a peace settlement. But no Israeli leader has ever countenanced the re-division of Jerusalem by the 1949 lines, which would recreate the conditions of 1948 – 67 during which Jews did not have access to the holy places.

Borders will be determined if and when there is a peace agreement which includes “termination of all claims or states of belligerency” in the language of 242. Land that “the Palestinians want” is exactly that and has no special status. Palestinians claim that anything that was occupied by Jordan from 1948 – 67 is theirs, but in fact the Israeli occupation, which was a result of a war of aggression waged against Israel, is legitimate while the Jordanian one was not!

There is no  legal significance to the 1949 lines. Of course there are areas that are more and less likely to remain part of Israel in a two-state partition (there are also parts of Israel that could become part of  ‘Palestine’). The US — until recently, it seems — understood that the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem near the Green Line would end up in Israel, and therefore did not object to building there.

The ‘daylight’ between Israel and the US has been introduced not by Israel, but by the US, which has apparently decided to accept the absurd Palestinian position that the illegal Jordanian occupation conferred legitimacy on the 1949 lines. And indeed, this ‘daylight’ has encouraged those who do not wish to negotiate — like Mahmoud Abbas!

Here is how PM Netanyahu put it in his remarks at the AIPAC convention yesterday:

Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.

In Jerusalem, my government has maintained the policies of all Israeli governments since 1967, including those led by Golda Meir, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin. Today, nearly a quarter of a million Jews, almost half the city’s Jewish population, live in neighborhoods that are just beyond the 1949 armistice lines. All these neighborhoods are within a five-minute drive from the Knesset. They are an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem. Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement. Therefore, building in them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.

Possibly US policymakers should ask themselves this: if the present situation is so bad for the Palestinians, why are they insisting on new preconditions which prevent negotiations?

More to the point, why does the US enable them?

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3 Responses to “The source of the daylight”

  1. Robman says:

    In answer to your final question:

    Because Obama is nothing but a Saudi puppet. This is also true for a large part of the people he surrounds himself with, to include Hillary”-the-45-million-dollars-Gulf-Arab-states-gave-to-the-Clinton-Library/Foundation-do-not-compromise-my-objectivity-as-Secretary-of-State-“Clinton.

    My most fervent hope is that he will be unmasked for the traitor he is, impeached, arrested, and thrown in jail. But they’d have to throw a lot of others in jail, too. He’s just the head of a sick pack.

    I can still dream, can’t I?

    January 2013 cannot come soon enough.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    Perhaps there is no malicious intention behind the Administration distortion. Perhaps what they are doing is trying to push Israel to a position which they believe will enable a peace agreement, a position the Palestinians will accept. It is not a matter of historical accuracy or justice for them. They want an agreement. They believe the only agreement possible is one in which East Jerusalem is the capitol of the Palestinian state. They even believe that pushing Israel in this way is good for Israel as it will bring true peace.
    It seems to me that if this is their view they simply wrongly estimate Palestinian intentions. But their being wrong does not make them haters of Israel just very questionable friends.

  3. Robman says:


    That is perhaps the most charitable interpretation one could make, and I really would like to believe that is the case, but I cannot.

    The facts are just too obvious. This has simply gone on too long. I think it was Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.

    These are not insane people. They are highly educated. I went to school with people like Obama, and I had his “good buddy”, Rashid Khalidi as a guest professor for one of my classes (and was a world-class jerk, believe me). I know exactly how they think.

    Rashid went on to raise $70,000 for Obama’s first senate campaign. I don’t think he did this because he thought Obama was a swell guy, or because he REALLY wanted to see the U.S. adopt a European-style national healthcare system. He expected something.

    The history is there for any reasonably intelligent person to see. The failure of the paradigm that informs the Obama administration’s efforts has manifestly been demonstrated, over and over again. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

    Pride is everything to the Arabs, as I’m sure you well know. These are people who, as a matter of course, kill their own wives or daughters if they are even suspected of infidelity or sexual activity outside of marriage.

    This is about humiliating Israel is order to satisfy the egos of the Arabs. The Arabs don’t have the power to do this themselves – when they have tried, they have only made matters worse for themselves – so through their bought-and-paid-for proxies in the halls of power of the United States, they are going to humiliate Israel. This is the price they ask the U.S. for their “cooperation” against Moslem “extremists” in the War on Terror, and in their own turn, U.S. leaders have deluded themselves into believing that this “cooperation” will enable us to win this war “on the cheap”.

    This is naked appeasement. It never has worked, and it won’t work now. These policies of the U.S. are nothing but a highly rationalized form of cowardice at Israel’s expense. We are, in effect, aligning ourselves with some of the most corrupt, backward, and dysfunctional societies on earth against a fellow liberal democracy, our front-line ally. Obama is by far the worst U.S. leader in this regard, but it is a matter of degree, not of kind. This is the direction the petrodollar pimps have been pushing us in, along with the anti-Semites in the State Department, for decades, under Republicans and Democrats alike. Bush was better, of course, but he wasn’t that much better.

    Ever since Vietnam, the U.S., as a polity, has lost any sense of what the hell we stand for anymore. That is the real difference between Israel and the U.S., and indeed, between Israel and much of the West. You are under no illusions about what you are fighting for, you do not have the luxury of the decadent delusions that have polluted so much of our society over here. One thing that struck me very deeply when I was in Israel was the rock-solid, sturdy patriotism of Israelis, that was is such stark contrast to the complacency, cynicism and apathy of so many here in the U.S.

    But we are slowly waking up. About the only good thing I can say about Obama is that his ideological perfidy is so extreme that he is jarring many Americans into thinking about these matters anew. I can guarantee you that by 2012, we are going to see a very different political landscape in this country.

    Hang in there, as best you can, my friend. If we can get through the storm of the next two years, ten months (but who’s counting…), there is a light at the end of this tunnel.