In a decision that has been criticized as a reversal of American policy and that may have diminished whatever hope for peace between Israel and Palestine, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed this past Monday American support for the proposed Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (renamed “the West Bank” by Jordan in 1948) as announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — recently indicted for corruption. Both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council and the International Court of Justice have all said that Israeli settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Pompeo went so far as to say that the U.S. support of Netenyahu’s goal decision reflects the Israeli policy of President Ronald Reagan: “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan: the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” although he added that the U.S. government was “expressing no view on the legal status of any individual settlement” or “addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank.” This decision, Pompeo added, was “based on the unique facts, history and circumstances presented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the West Bank.” This could not be any farther from the truth.
The West Bank, which is home to nearly three million Palestinians, is a stretch of territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north; in theory it would make up the heart of any Palestinian state. Israel took control of it after winning the Six-Day War (5-10 June 1967). The West Bank was also the central of the ancient Jewish state because of its holy sites, such as the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. In essence, Israeli control of the West Bank means military administration of a territory full of Palestinians who are not open to live under Israeli authority.
Pompeo stretched a fine line by suggesting that President Reagan would have justified such a measure, i.e., giving Israel the green light to do as it pleases. It is true that Reagan was instrumental in forming the present-day U.S.-Israel relationship, even helping reform Israel’s economy in 1985 — following a severe economic crisis in Israel, which sent inflation rates soaring as high as 445%, the U.S. approved a $1.5 billion emergency assistance package and helped formulate Israel’s successful economic stabilization plan. Reagan also worked to free Soviet Jews, and also approved the CIA-sponsored rescue of 500 Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in the Sudan in 1985’s Operation Joshua. Yet he also supported the UN Security Council resolution condemning the Israelis after they bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, suspending the delivery of F-16 jet fighters to them. Also, after Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, Reagan suspended the strategic cooperation agreement prompting then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin to accuse Reagan of treating Israel like a “banana republic.”
It should also be made clear that even David Ben Gurion, who became Israel’s first prime minister, rejected demands that Israel should capture the central highlands (before it was known as the West Bank), saying it was time to end the war and concentrate on building the country. Ultimately, as former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro had a former US ambassador to Israel, had indicated: any Israeli occupation of the West Bank would put any “peace plan is on ice — maybe permanently.”
We need to understand that the disputed land between Israelis and Palestinians has been the scene of tension and violence between Arabs and Jews since the time of the British mandate, which in 1917 ended four hundred years of Ottoman rule. With the Balfour Declaration by the English colonial occupant, support was officially charted to create a “national homeland” for Jews in Palestine, thus following through with the appeal of the Zionist protagonist Theodor Herzl. After the World War II, with the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis, the UN General Assembly approved a partition plan for Palestine, with the establishment of the Israeli State in 1949 and another one for the Arabs. About 688,000 immigrants came to Israel during the first three years; approximately 650,000 Jews were already living in Israel when it was formally established as an independent and sovereign state. Simultaneously, approximately 750,000 Palestinians (75 percent of the Palestinian population) were expelled from their homes to make room for the influx of Jews. This led to a coalition of Arab nations launching an invasion of the nascent Jewish state as part of the First Arab-Israeli War in 1948. It was followed by a second major conflict, the Suez Crisis which erupted in 1956, when Israel, the United Kingdom and France staged a controversial attack on Egypt in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal; what followed was the aforementioned Six-Day War.
Netanyahu’s would-be takeover of Palestinian land, which is bound to be disastrous and ignite more bloodshed, falls right in line with Ben Guiron’s policy of conquest. In a letter he wrote to his 16-year-old son, Amos, on October 5, 1937, Guiron stated: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places…. And, if we have to use force-not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places — then we have force at our disposal.” Such Israeli expansionism further compels Palestinian Islamists to continue in their jihadist ways, which includes the indoctrination of their children to hate non-Muslims and kill innocent civilians.
Undoubtedly, it is legitimate to think that sooner or later peace will be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians, though it appears to be more of wishful thinking regardless if Israel occupies the West Bank or not — of course, occupation of the West Bank would be met with Palestinian aggression. This is because there is a factor the U.S. and the international community do not want to admit, and that is peace can never and will never be achieved since both Israelis and Palestinian Muslims uphold the principle of vengeance: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
While the Jews have overcome certain barbaric disciplines of the Old Testament, such as the stoning of adulterous women attributed to the Mosaic Law — something Jesus Christ abolished — they have learnt how to put such accounts in historical and exegetical contexts. However, if someone starts to create problems for them, the Israelis have historically shown to be anything but tolerant, reverting to justifiable vengeance. The Palestinian Muslims, on the other hand, have not overcome the principle of retaliation because the Quran does not allow them, let alone coexistence with a people who democratically elect their government, especially if the head of state is a Jew: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture [Jews and Christians] until they give the jizyah [tax] willingly while they are humbled.” (Sura 9, 29) — This was fulfilled by the Prophet Muhammad in 627 AD when he wiped out the last remaining major tribe of Jews in Medina: the Beni Qurayza by beheading the men and the pubescent boys, enslaving the women and children as loot.
It would be beneficial to everyone in the Middle East region to remind the Israelis that any further annexation would not just be in violation of the Partition they had agreed to but an act of self-righteousness equally as bad as when the Prophet Muhammad reneged on the Hudaybiyya Accord of 628 AD — a ten-year treaty with the Jews he disavowed two years later — which Islamists refer to whenever they wish to break treaties. If both Israelis and Palestinians want to make peace they can do so just as Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin did on September 17, 1978, with the Camp David Accords. Both were able to incorporate the teaching of forgiveness as Jesus Christ taught and overcome their bitter past history they both shared understanding that we are all children of God, which requires to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”