US Concern about Israel’s Illegal Settlements Is 42 Years Too Late

That U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the courage to tell AIPAC’s conference that Israel’s continued construction of Jewish housing on occupied territory is undermining both the prospect for peace and America’s credibility and own best interests was good news. The bad news is that this and other Obama administration expressions of concern are 42 years too late.

There’s no mystery about when the U.S. should have taken the lead through the UN Security Council in putting Israel on notice that it would not be permitted to settle any of the Arab land it grabbed in the 1967 war. Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967 ought to have contained a diplomatic reading of the riot act to the Zionist state on the matter of settlements.

As I have noted in a number of previous articles and my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, Resolution 242 was, actually, a disaster for all who were seriously interested in working for a just and lasting peace. By stating that Israeli armed forces were required to withdraw “from territories” occupied in the conflict – i.e. not the territories or better still all territories – Resolution 242 put the Israelis in the diplomatic driving seat, leaving them free to be the ones, and the only ones, who would determine (on a take it leave it basis backed by brute force) the extent of any Israeli withdrawals. This fatal flaw in 242 effectively gave Israel’s leaders a veto over any peace process.

Despite that, Resolution 242 need not have been a complete disaster for peacemakers if a statement had been inserted into its text to this effect… That Israel should not seek to settle or colonise the occupied territories, and that if it did the Security Council would enforce international law and take whatever action was necessary to stop the illegal developments.

Question: Why did the text of Resolution 242 not contain such a statement of Security Council intent? The answer I give in the forthcoming Volume 3 of the American edition of my book (, is this.

Those responsible for framing Resolution 242 were very much aware that Israel’s hawks were going to proceed with their colonial venture come what may – in determined defiance of international law and no matter what the organised international community said or wanted. And some if not all of those responsible for framing 242 were resigned to the fact that, because of the history of the Jews and the Nazi holocaust, Israel was not and never would or could be a normal state. As a consequence, there was no point in seeking to oblige it to behave like a normal state – i.e. in accordance with international law and its obligations as a member of the UN. Like it or not, and whatever it might mean for the fate of humankind, the world was going to have to live with the fact that there were two sets of rules – one for Israel and one for all other nations. Because of the way Israel was created – without legitimacy in international law – The System now had a double standard built into it, and because the political will to confront Zionism did not exist, there was nothing anybody could do to change that reality.

In my view a conclusion invited is that Zionism’s in-Israel leaders are not the main villains in the story. They, the main villains, are successive American and other Western leaders who lacked the will and the courage not only to call and hold Zionism’s monster child to account, but to do what was in the best longer term interests of their own countries.

I have the impression (of course I could be wrong!) that President Obama would like to break this mould. I even think there’s a possibility that, in the privacy of his own mind, he might already have told himself that he will do so in a second term, if he has one. (Though Obama signalled his displeasure at having to meet with Netanyahu by insisting on no photographs, I thought it was a mistake for the President to meet with him. As with Biden’s arrival in Israel, Netanyahu’s arrival at the White House was preceded by the announcement of the go-ahead for more illegal Jewish construction in occupied Arab East Jerusalem. There could not have been a more pointed “Up Yours, Mr. President!” Israeli gesture). But what if President Obama tried and was not allowed by the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress to succeed? Would that necessarily mean that the Zionist state was and would remain a monster beyond control, with catastrophic consequences for the region and the whole world, including the Jews of the world?

Perhaps not.

There is today a new factor in the equation. It is the concern being raised in public by some of America’s top military men.

The United States Central Command, Centcom, is the military headquarters responsible for US security interests in 20 countries across the greater Middle East.

On 16 March, Centcom’s head, General David H. Petraeus, appeared before the Senate Armed-Services with a prepared testimony. It included this: “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbours present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the Middle East and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.”

Petraeus also briefed Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and apparently told him, among other things, that Washington’s “impotence” in the face of Israel’s ongoing colonisation of the occupied West Bank was the greatest cause of Arab anger.

As noted by Paul Rogers in an article for OpenDemocracy published on 18 March, “America and Israel: a historic choice”: “the very arm of the United States federal government which has the closest links with Israel – namely, the military – is now suggesting that Israel is the source of some of its own key problems in the middle east.”

The significance of what Petraeus said was, as Rogers also noted, heightened by the fact that the criticism came not from retired generals, not remote from the strategic frontline; “but from the very US military command that has been fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for most of the decade… This elite forms a core element of the US military-industrial complex which in five decades of close cooperation with Israel has furnished its ally with sophisticated weapons-systems, undertaken many joint exercises, provided huge amounts of aid; and in turn depended on Israel for crucial assistance in its war in Iraq.”

This military intervention in the “What to do about Israel?” debate now gathering momentum in America, made me wonder if the stage is being set for a showdown, at some point, between the Zionist lobby in its many manifestations and the occupant of the White House, whoever he is, with the military on his side.

So perhaps, even after 42 years, coming up for 43, it’s not too late.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and globally as a researcher, author, and a correspondent for ITN and the BBC. Read other articles by Alan, or visit Alan's website.

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  1. William James Martin said on March 28th, 2010 at 9:34am #

    At one point in his administration, Carter suggested that he might take the conflict to the American people and lay it all out in a nationally televised speech. My guess is that, at that time, the poitical situation had not ripened sufficiently. Afterall, Carter was constrained by the injunction initiated by Henry Kissinger that the US government would not talk to or meet with Arafat until he recognized Iarael’s right to exists. None-the-less, the situation has evolved since then, and that may be exactly what Obama will have to do. That has another virtue – American arte generally confused about the basic nature of the conflict and still under the thrall of Israel-Zionists propoganda which, however, is loosing it strength as more and more histories are being written and with the advent of Al Jazeera, You Tube, and the internet.