The Lesson Israel Should Draw from the Change in American Policy toward West Bank Settlements

November 22, 2019 | Amnon Lord
About the author: Amnon Lord is an editor and columnist at the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon and an editor at the online magazine Mida. His books (in Hebrew) include The Israeli Left: From Socialism to Nihilism (2003) and, most recently, The Lost Generation: The Story of the Yom Kippur War (2013).

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. no longer held it a violation of international law for Jews to live or build houses on lands acquired by Israel during the Six-Day War. This opinion runs contrary to the stance of the Carter and Obama administrations, as well as that of most West European governments, but rests on a coherent and logical understanding of the law. Amnon Lord explains its significance:

[The American decision] is proof that standing tenaciously for years on solid and consistent legal ground ultimately ends in international recognition. If Israel had surrendered to the views of [its own] “new-wave” jurists, who created a propagandist and false presentation of the legal status of the territories in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley, even the most supportive [U.S.] administration . . . wouldn’t have lifted a finger on the matter. From this perspective, anyone who has argued and expounded on this legal and historical position over the years in American, international, and local forums deserves credit for the Trump administration’s diplomatic revolution.

What’s needed now is the establishment of an Israeli government capable of providing significance and substance to the new American policy. The declaration further enhances Donald Trump’s policy, which he has been unfurling for three years now, whereby, the 1967 lines no longer represent a baseline for a future peace deal.

This new policy does not negate or supersede the possibility of a deal with the Palestinians; but at the same time, it also doesn’t prohibit Israel from possibly imposing its sovereignty over these strategic territories, which are so crucial to its security, or over specific settlement areas themselves. Israel’s Supreme Court also recognizes the legality of these communities.

The imperative for the country [now] is a national-unity or right-wing government capable of using this diplomatic gift. And it is a gift that in many ways is more important than moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Read more on Israel Hayom:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now