The UN Settlements Resolution Runs Contrary to Longstanding U.S. Policy and to International Law

Ambassador Samantha Power, defending the U.S. decision not to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, stated that the vote was “fully in line with the bipartisan history of how American presidents have approached the issue,” citing alleged precedent from previous administrations. However, writes Peter Berkowitz, both her claim and similar statements issued by the presidential foreign-policy guru Ben Rhodes are demonstrably false; he outlines how the incoming president can undo the damage:

While previous administrations have criticized settlements as bad policy, it is the Obama administration that deviates from longstanding American practice by maintaining that every last inch of the West Bank—the territory beyond the Green Line held by Jordan on the eve of the June 1967 Six-Day War—is lawfully Palestinian land. In the very 1982 address on the Middle East that Power cites in defense of Resolution 2334, President Reagan declared, “In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten-miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.” . . .

Power is wrong on legal grounds as well as on security and historical ones. The Green Line is the 1949 armistice line to which Israel and Jordan agreed to end the war begun by five Arab armies invading Israel after it declared independence on the expiration of the British Mandate in May 1948. The armistice lines have no inherent legal significance. . . .

[S]hortly after he takes the oath of office, Donald Trump should invoke Article I, Section 8, Clause 10 of the United States Constitution, which gives Congress power to “define . . . offenses against the law of nations.” President Trump should ask Congress to pass a law stating that the UN resolution is such an offense and shall not be recognized by any U.S. entity as authoritative. The law should impose sanctions against any U.S. person or entity that cooperates in the enforcement of the resolution. . . .

[T]he Obama administration’s efforts to use international law to criminalize the Netanyahu government’s disagreement with it over how Israel might best achieve security and peace should be forcefully repudiated, certainly by those who believe that international law should not be degraded into a nasty brew of moral posturing, political maneuvering, and personal payback.

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Donald Trump, International Law, Israel & Zionism, Samantha Power, Settlements, United Nations, US-Israel relations

 

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy