http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/
The Arab American News

U.S. spoiling of Israel is the real impediment to peace
| Friday, 01.06.2017, 03:24 AM |

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a courageous and monumental address last Wednesday, poising "perpetual occupation" as an impediment to peace and the prosperity of a two-state peace deal.

The speech came in the wake of the U.S. decision to abstain from a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning further Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Kerry criticized Israel's representative to the United Nations, a known adversary of a two state-solution, who expressed disappointment over the U.S. abstention. 

Despite Israel's outrage and surprise over the abstention, it is the level of support the United States has given to Israel over the past few years that is unprecedented rather than the conflict of interest between the longtime allies.

The U.S refusal to block the passage of the resolution with a veto garnered outrage from Israeli officials complacent by decades of unconditional support.

The Secretary of State's rebuttal otherwise reinstated that the interests of the U.S. remain aligned with the interests of the greater international community which voted 14-0 against Jewish settlements, with the U.S. abstaining.

Kerry insinuated that, rather, Israel posed a diplomatic offensive. 

Israel must come to terms with its garish position as the international diplomatic anomaly. 


Not the first time


Last Wednesday's speech is not the first time a Secretary of State has called Israel out in a blunt message. 

In 1990, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir sought to exclude any negotiations from Palestinians in East Jerusalem, consistently rejecting dialogue with Palestinians from their territories as he dismissed the question as "no longer relevant."

Then-Secretary of State James Baker responded to the ultimatum by giving him President George H. W. Bush's phone number. "When you're serious about peace, call us."

In 2008, President George W. Bush called Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank an "impediment" to the success of revived peace efforts and urged the Israeli government to follow through on its pledge to dismantle unauthorized settler outposts.


U.S. unconditional backing of Israel, is hindering peace


Kerry's enumeration of instances of the United States showering unconditional support on Israel were a counterpoint to that nation's accusations that the U.S. had reneged upon its commitment. 

Yet, they also served as an opportunity for contemplative self-reflection for a nation that allegedly hails freedom, democracy and equality. 

In his speech, Kerry listed U.S. opposition to boycotts, divestment and sanctions—most notably the BDS campaigns— consistent insistence upon Israel's inclusion in international bodies and opposing sanctions against it as a testament detailing the extent of the current administration's support.

"In fact, this administration has been Israel's greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel's security and protecting its legitimacy." Kerry said in his speech.

His recollection of President Obama's "unconditional support" for Israel was most recently verified by an unprecedented $38 billion aid package, calls into question why the Obama administration was so complicit with Israel's intransigence for the past eight years. 


The U.S. should have voted yes


While Kerry has been relatively bold in defending the U.S.'s abstention at the U.N. Security Council, the right and moral stance would have been to vote yes and join the international community in opposing further settlements and genocide. 

In his speech, Kerry spoke against expanding settlements, citing them as an end to the peace process and a real hope for a two-state solution. 

In justifying the American vote, Kerry said allowing the condemnation was driven by a desire to save Israel from "the most extreme elements" in its own government. 

While Kerry's remarks were a noble gesture, the Obama administration's failure to act on its criticism of Israel's international violations speaks volumes. 

As the world watches Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces, U.S. sincerity remains in question; it continues to sanction human rights abuses through unconditional political, financial and military support of Israel.

To reiterate, if Kerry is to be consistent with both his criticisms against the settlements and commitment to peace and democracy as demanded by the international community, the United States should have reflected this stance through a "yes" vote in the U.N. Security Council.