WASHINGTON, January 16, 2018.: Israel has now occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem for more than 50 years. The U.S. and the rest of the world has considered this occupation in violation of international law.
Israel has, in the past, said the occupation was “temporary,” and has repeatedly pledged to move toward a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state created in these territories. At the same time, Israel continues to occupy the area with hundreds of thousands of settlers, again in violation of international law.
Israel abandons the creation of a Palestinian state
Now, the Israeli government has abandoned any pretense of supporting the creation of a Palestinian state. This month, the ruling Likud Party’s central committee has unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for the annexation of the West Bank settlements.
Several leading politicians, including senior members of the Netanyahu cabinet, joined the vote to “impose Israeli law on all liberated areas of settlement in Judea and Samaria.”
Among them were Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat. In Mr. Erdan’s words: “We are telling the world that it doesn’t matter what the nations of the world say. The time has come to express our biblical right to the land.”
President Trump emboldens Israel
This position is the result, in large measure, of the encouragement received by Israel’s extreme right-wing from the Trump administration. The new U.S.ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a long-time opponent of the creation of a Palestinian state, says the U.S. should stop using the term “occupation” to characterize Israel’s presence in the occupied territories. This, of course, contradicts policy under all previous U.S. administrations, Republican and Democratic.
Menachem Klein, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University, states:
“The map of external pressures has changed dramatically. Instead of Obama we have Trump…This is a very easy arena in which we can go ahead.”
Should the U.S. continue aid to Israel
If Israel intends to annex the West Bank, in violation of international law, and an independent Palestinian state is not to be created, what is the rationale for continuing massive U.S. aid to Israel?
American taxpayers are, in reality, subsidizing Israeli occupation and settlement. Such a subsidy fuels hatred for the U.S.throughout the Middle East and is an effective recruiting tool for Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other extremist groups.
Most Americans are unaware of exactly how massive U.S. aid is, and has been since the end of World War ll. In September 2016, the U.S. agreed to provide Israel a record $38 billion in new military aid over the next decade. The agreement equates to $3.8 billion a year, the largest bilateral military aid package ever.
This represents a 20% increase from the previous U.S. agreement of $3.1 billion annually.
Roughly 20% of our entire foreign aid budget goes to Israel.
It has been the largest total recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll. The total direct aid to Israel amounts to over $140 billion.
Put another way, at the present time American taxpayers give Israel $10.1 million per day.
Beyond this, contrary to U.S. policy, Israel has been and continues to be allowed to use approximately 20% of U.S. military aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers. No other recipient of U.S. military assistance has been granted this benefit. As a result, Israel has built a massive arms industry which is selling weapons to a variety of third world countries, some of which use these weapons to oppress their own people.
Israel’s 50-year occupation, subsidized by American taxpayers, has not been benign.
Amnesty International annually documents in a comprehensive way the nature of the occupation. Their 2015 report notes that,
“In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces committed unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians, including children, and detained thousands of Palestinians who, protested against or otherwise opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment remained rife and were committed with impunity. The authorities continued to promote illegal settlements in the West Bank, and severely restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement…Israeli settlers in the West Bank attacked Palestinians and their property with virtual impunity…The authorities continued to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank and inside Israel, particularly in Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqb region, forcibly evicting their residents.”
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, now teaching at Exeter University in the United Kingdom’ reports that,
“About 15,000 Palestinians have been killed ‘unlawfully’ by Israel since 1967. Among them were 2,000 children. Another feature of the ‘enlightened occupation’ is imprisonment without trial. Every fifth Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has undergone such an experience.”
The reliable website Middle East Monitor published an article describing the 200 methods of torture used by the Israelis. The list is based on a U.N. report and a report from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. Among other methods, it includes beatings, chaining prisoners to doors or chairs for hours, pouring cold and hot water on them, pulling fingers apart and twisting testicles. Professor Pappe argues that Israel’s “pretense to being a democracy” is not consistent with “such behavior towards millions of people under its rule..”
Israel’s planned takeover of Biblical Palestine
Historically, those who created the state of Israel seem to have planned from the beginning to take over all of Biblical Palestine, despite the wishes of the indigenous inhabitants. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, accepted the U.N. division of Palestine in 1948, but only temporarily.
In 1936, when he headed the Jewish Agency, he said:
“Were I an Arab…I would rise up, against immigration, for Arabs are fighting dispossession…the fear is not of losing land, but of losing the homeland of the Arab people, while others (we) want to turn it into the homeland of the Jewish people. When we say the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves, that is only half the truth, politically, we are the aggressors and they defend themselves.”
With regard to dividing Palestine, in 1937 Ben Gurion told the world exactly what he planned:
“After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Biblical Palestine..I do not see partition as the final solution of the Palestine question…We will expel the Arabs and take their places.”
The opportunity came in 1967. Many think the 1967 war was one in which Israel was resisting attack and occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in self-defense. In fact, it was Israel which launched the first strike against Egypt in 1967. Menachem Begin, who was prime minister, later said:
“In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentration in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really going to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack them.”
Now, Israel plans to annex these occupied territories. The millions of Palestinian residents have no civil rights, and no right to vote. The massive U.S. aid subsidizes Israel in an enterprise which is opposed to American interests in the region and is contrary to basic American values.
If Israel proceeds and the two-state solution is dead, what is the rationale for continuing to send an increasingly illiberal and prosperous Israel $3.8 billion dollars a year?
Thus far, no one has answered this question or even asked it.