Sunday, March 8, 2009

Supporting Secretary Clinton's Criticism of Israeli Settlement Policy

Juan Cole made the following appeal for those who care about a just solution to the Israeli subjugation of Palestinians to support Secretary Clinton's all-too-mild condemnation of Israeli efforts to swallow Arab East Jerusalem:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Israel on Wednesday for its plan to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in Occupied East Jerusalem, calling it a violation of the Roadmap for Israeli-Palestinian peace. She said after meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, "Clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the 'road-map'... It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem."

Clinton will get lots of critical emails from a tightly organized network of far rightwing Revisionist-Zionists for her comment. Please consider sending her a supportive message for daring speak out on the issue. In fact, urge her to use a stronger word than "unhelpful" the next time.

Indeed. There is a dangerously undemocratic tendency in Washington to punish severely any open discussion of Israeli misbehavior. On this occasion, Secretary Clinton showed backbone combined with a sense of morality (rare in Washington), and she deserves encouragement. It is unfortunate that she did not take this occasion to condemn, without reservation and as a direct attack on the world community and the national interests of the U.S., Israel's overall policy of aggressively continuing to expand illegal settlements in conquered territory. It is crystal clear to all open-minded observers that Israel is doing this precisely for the purpose of creating a fait accompli that will prevent the creation of any viable Palestinian state, even as it pretends to cooperate with the U.S. If the Obama Administration has finally made the long-awaited decision to take sincerely the U.S. rhetoric about solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, terminating Israeli settlements on Palestinian land will be the key issue. Therefore, Clinton's condemnation, however gently phrased, is potentially a landmark shift.

Juan Cole is quite right that all who care should speak out.

According to Haaretz, Clinton's remarks constitute only one of four Obama Administration signals that Washington is now getting fed up with Israel's settlement policy:

The four separate complaints relate to the demolition of Palestinian-owned homes in East Jerusalem, reports of Israeli plans to construct additional housing in the E1 area, between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, the relocation of the illegal outpost at Migron to a new, as-yet unbuilt neighborhood of the Adam settlement and to plans to build thousands of new residential units in the settlement of Efrat.

This is beginning to look like a trend toward Washington decision-makers actually putting U.S. national security interests first.

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