image Photo: Flash 90

Palestinians outraged by U.S. policy on Settlements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s appreciation of the Trump Administration for its decision to reverse the Obama Administration’s policy vis-à-vis Jewish communities on disputed lands while at the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion. According to Washington’s position, which was made public by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, ‘Israeli West Bank settlements are not per se inconsistent with international law’ – a stance Netanyahu insists ‘rights a historic wrong.’ He said “I admit that I’m very excited. We are here in Gush Etzion, a place we’ve been expelled from in the war of independence (1948). And here we are in a historic day with another huge achievement for the state of Israel, which we’ve been working on quite a bit. The Trump administration has righted a historic wrong here, stood with truth and justice, I thank President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo, I think it’s a great day for the state of Israel and an achievement for generations.”

The so-called West Bank of the Jordan River – which includes the Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria districts – are Biblical regions from where the Jewish people historically originate. Since the Jewish State reclaimed those lands during the six-day war of 1967, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a majority of Israelis view those territories as a natural and inseparable part of the Jewish homeland. Israeli Resident of West Bank Settlement Josef Kernel voiced his joy saying “I’m happy and amazed that the president of the United States Mr. Trump recognized the settlements and I wish it will be a step to make a peace between us and the Palestinians.” Zomi Osi, who is also an Israeli Resident of West Bank Settlement said “The decision that was made in America about Israel, it is something we know – from the (Mediterranean ) sea to the Jordan river, it belongs to the people of Israel. The rest can be here as tourists, welcome, but it belongs to us and there is no need to even discuss it because it’s ours.”

It is important to note that for numerous political and diplomatic reasons, no Israeli government had ever asserted Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank territories – in contrast to East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights that were separately annexed under Israeli law in 1980 and in 1981. While the majority of countries around the world persistently reject Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the United States – under the Trump Administration –  proclaimed its official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over both territories.

Meanwhile the Arab Palestinian population that resides in the West Bank continues to claim ownership over those territories, and while they never officially controlled the land, they relentlessly deem Israel’s presence in its ancestral homeland as sheer colonial occupation. According to Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the decision by the Trump Administration vis-à-vis the West Bank constitutes a real threat to world peace and security. He said “This administration constitutes a real threat on world peace and security. And as Palestinians we will stand tall with international law, we know we are under occupation.”

Arab Palestinian residents of the West Bank have also voiced unified frustration over the American decision. One such resident, Nabel Mansour, said  “This is nonsense, there is nothing. Because we have international decisions and international legitimacy. The international legitimacy is the one representing the world, and not the United States.” Mahmoud Salim who is also a Palestinian West Bank Resident argued that “The Palestinians and the entire world reject this decision, not just the Palestinians. They stated regarding about Jerusalem and made decisions in the past – that is all not true.”

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip the Islamist Hamas organization which is responsible for indiscriminately firing of thousands of rockets and mortar shells toward Israeli civilian communities, declared the American position to be a violation of international law. Hamas Spokesman Hazzem Qassem  claimed that “The declarations by the U.S secretary of state that Israeli settlements are legal, is violating international law and international human law and underlines the participation of this administration in hostility against our Palestinian people.”

It is important to note that in support of the Palestinian position, 164 nations voted in favor of a U.N. resolution yesterday, titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” Nations voting in favor of the legislation include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia (Republic of The), Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon,

Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Nations voting against it include: Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and the United States.

Abstentions: Australia, Cameroon, Guatemala, Honduras, Kiribati, Rwanda, Togo, Tonga and Vanuatu.