Negative response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement last week that Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law proved once again that politics makes for strange bedfellows.
It also illustrated that it’s been decades since Israel has had a friend as loyal to it as the United States.
Pompeo made his historic announcement at a Monday, November 18 press briefing.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan,” Pompeo said during the announcement, referring to Reagan’s 1983 opposition to dismantling Israel’s West Bank settlements, as New York Times reported.
“The establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not, per se, illegal under international law,” Pompeo added.
While evangelicals in the United States gave the announcement their blessing, others condemned it.
Without surprise, Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Somalia-born Minnesota Democrat who has repeatedly been called out for anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli rhetoric, objected to the administration’s decision.
"Israeli settlements violate law, decades of U.S. foreign policy, and the human rights of Palestinians," Omar tweeted. "All who believe in the possibility of peace must speak up in this moment."
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat who identifies as a Palestinian-American and who has her own history of strong anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli bias, agreed.
"Israel's settlements in the West Bank violate international law. No matter what this corrupt and immoral Trump regime (yeah he is a lawless king-like dictator) say, it doesn't change that fact. #FreePalestine & #ImpeachmentTrumpNow," Tlaib tweeted.
Omar and Tlaib found support also from prominent American Jews, beginning with Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions," Sanders, a Vermont independent, tweeted. "Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base."
Andy Levin, a Jewish congressman from Michigan, delivered a letter to Pompeo signed by him and 106 other Democratic House members, six of them also Jewish, which expressed “strong disagreement” with the State Department’s decision.
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat and a Jew, signed a separate letter denouncing Pompeo’s announcement.
To recap, both anti-Israeli and Jewish U.S. politicians are united in one belief — that the United States should not have announced the legality of West Bank settlements.
However, the people most affected — those on the ground — disagree, and believe that in the long run it will lead to a lasting peace in the region.
The New York-based One Israel Fund has been the single leading organization to provide necessities to Israeli civilians living in the West Bank, known locally as Judea and Samaria. The organization works in concert with the Israeli Defense Forces to ensure the safety and security of the civilians in the region.
Scott Feltman, One Israel Fund’s executive director, tells Newsmax that in the long-run “I believe personally and professionally that peace will come about with a strong Israel and a strong American voice.”
The secretary of State’s announcement last week marks the Trump administration’s third major initiative that directly affects Israel in a positive manner.
The first was the September 2017 relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and with it, the recognition that Jerusalem was both its historical and legal capital.
The second was the U.S.’s acknowledgement of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights region in March of this year.
But Pompeo’s announcement last week “is more significant,” according to Feltman.
“Having America come out and make this statement has such wide-ranging ramifications, and it probably the most important statement they could have made.”
Israel has held that while the settlements in the West Bank may be disputed, they’re not illegal, and that “having America back that up is just unbelievably important.”
Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, where people of any sex, ethnicity, or religion — including Islam — can vote, practice a profession, or even hold elective office. This is both Israel’s strength and sometimes its curse.
Arab voters in the Jewish state dealt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an electoral setback in September. His troubles escalated Thursday when he was indicted on corruption charges, prompting the prime minister to accuse prosecutors of staging “an attempted coup.”
Given recent events, Feltman tells Newsmax, “I pray that the Israeli government will be as pro-Israel as the American government.”
Given recent events in the United States, President Donald Trump may well be thinking, “I pray that the U.S. government will be as pro-U.S. as the Israeli government.”
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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