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LBJ: Return to pre-1967 borders “not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities”

LBJ: Return to pre-1967 borders “not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities”

Mideast Media Sampler 11/03/2013 – The focus on settlements as obstacles to peace is a recent invention

To read through recent news reports one could assume that the biggest obstacle to Palestinian Israeli peace are “settlements.”

To cement that impression the New York Times published an article, 1,500 Units to Be Added in Settlement, Israel Says. The caption of a photograph directly beneath the headline reads:

A Palestinian construction worker at a building site on Wednesday in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in East Jerusalem.

If there is an official “East Jerusalem,” I am unaware of it, but perhaps the paper meant “east Jerusalem.” However if you read down a few paragraphs you learn:

The 1,500 new apartments are to be added to Ramat Shlomo, a largely religious neighborhood of 20,000 on the city’s northern edge. They were originally announced during a 2010 visit to Jerusalem by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, causing a diplomatic crisis that dampened Israel’s relationship with the White House and Europe for months.

So actually, Ramat Shlomo isn’t in the city’s east but in its north (or northeast) and it’s not a settlement but a neighborhood.

And while the announcement led to a major diplomatic blowup, it was of the administration’s making. The Vice-President, Secretary of State and President could have remained silent. Everyone expects sections of Jerusalem, even those illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967 to be part of Israel in any final agreement with the Palestinians.

The announcement had occurred during an Israeli ban on settlement building outside of Jerusalem. That settlement ban brought about no serious negotiations. (The PA returned to the table only a few weeks before the end of the freeze and, when the freeze expired, walked away.) If settlement freezes were so important to the Palestinians, why didn’t they negotiate then?

So “settlements” provide a convenient excuse for a Palestinian refusal to negotiate or concede anything to Israel. But should they?

At the beginning of the Obama administration, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post wrote Old Legal Opinion Raises New Questions. The opinion in question was whether, according to the United States, Israeli communities outside of the 1949 armistice lines were illegal. This is how Kessler set things up.

Thirty years ago, the State Department legal adviser issued an opinion in response to an inquiry from Congress: The establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories “is inconsistent with international law.”

The opinion cited Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Israel has insisted that the Geneva Convention does not apply to settlers and broadly contests assertions of the settlements’ illegality.

Despite the passage of time, the legal opinion, issued during the Carter administration, has never been revoked or revised. President Ronald Reagan said he disagreed with it — he called the settlements “not illegal” — but his State Department did not seek to issue a new opinion.

What Kessler doesn’t say is that the opinion was a departure. Not a single administration ever adopted it as a matter of policy. But that didn’t stop him from implying that the ruling of a single Carter administration official should have the force of law (because it was never contradicted) or could well become the policy of the Obama administration. In fact, unless you’re a reporter for the New York Times, the Obama administration never accepted the ruling.

The Carter-era ruling departed from established legal framework of viewing “settlements.” Instead of basing the legality of settlements on the language of 242, which implicitly understood that Israel would not withdraw from all territories captured in 1967, it was based on a dubious reading of the Fourth Geneva Protocol. Morris Abram, one of the drafters of the protocol said that it “was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.”

Resolution 242 stated that Israel should withdraw “… from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Not specifically “all territories,” but “territories,” generally.

The reason 242 did not require an Israeli withdrawal from all territories, was articulated by President Johnson in the wake of the Six Day War:

There are some who have urged, as a single, simple solution, an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4. As our distinguished and able Ambassador, Mr. Arthur Goldberg, has already said, this is not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities.

Eugene Rostow cited this speech in explaining why Resolution 242 did not require Israel to withdraw from all territories captured in 1967. The Johnson speech, which is cited by Rostow as the basis for 242, called first for “the recognized right of national life,” as necessary for peace, even before justice for the refugees or territorial integrity.

The precedent for Israel retaining at least some portions of Judea and Samaria goes back even further than the Carter era legal ruling. But those Palestinian state cheerleaders, in what Barry Rubin terms the “MUG complex,” conveniently ignore Johnson’s statement or the wording of 242. They just focus on Palestinian claims as if they are the only ones that are justified.

Johnson did not see any contradiction between Israel retaining some of the territories it captured and there still being “justice for the refugees.”

By accepting the Palestinian narrative as the primary grievance that needs to be addressed (rather than recognition of Israel’s right to exist or security) those critics of Israel aren’t just reversing American policy, they are also making the chances for peace more remote. As long as Palestinians know that their grievance is accepted in full and that failure of talks will be blamed on “settlements” they have no reason to compromise or to make a deal.

If there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians there needs to be a realization that “settlements” are not the obstacle to peace but that the removal of all of them might very well be a “prescription … for renewed hostilities.”

(Some of Johnson’s speech is seen below, starting at 13:57)


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First, I’d expect that there would be peace in Libya. Because there you’re dealing with arabs. All of them! Maybe, one day they’ll all wear the same color turbans? And, women won’t be draped in black tablecloths, with rules they need to cover their faces.

Did you ever see them eat? The women have to pull their headcovering away from their eyeballs … so they can shove a forkful of food down the hole.

As to these “plans,” they were designed by State Department anti-Semites. Besides, hurting Israel gives Obama joy. It makes him feel important.

Anyhoo … How does anyone “enforce” borders in the hostile arab lands … Given that they are forever complaining outsiders drew the crayon lines onto maps. All after WW1. When the Ottoman Empire backed the wrong horse.

Does the USA have ANY remaining friends in the region?

The good news is that Israel still gets tourists. Egypt doesn’t. Turkey does. But that’s because in Turkey nobody attacks the tourists. (Thank goodness.) Turkey depends on tourism. So, too, at one time, did Cairo.

Oh, and Lebanon once got tourists.

But if you look at all the “stories” that enjoy themselves going after Israel … What you find is NONE of the arab capitals can get tourists to come back.

You want a cheap vacation? Go to Cambodia.

Israel as a nation should keep the land they have established, per “world-wide” terms.

Biblically, the strip of land formerly called Canaan doesn’t matter. The Kingdom of God matters absolutely more.

The Kingdom of God is universal and resides in all who believe that God keeps His Covenant Promises.

There are no “Palestinians”, just descendents of Bedouin tribesmen that refuse to accept citizenship in the country they are squatting in. All they have to do is accept the State and agree that Jews have a right to live. These tribesmen were offered what is now Jordan. Why the heck don’t they go there and leave peaceful people alone?

It’s almost as if the Israelis already know how the talks are going to turn out and aren’t waiting around…

    We just released a bunch of convicted criminals, some for murder, to make Obama and Kerry happy. What scares me more than thinking Obama and Kerry are just anti-semistic sadists is that they may actually be sincere and think that there is a “peace process”. Actually, I would be more worried about the country they run 24/7 (the US) than about the little colony over here in the mid-east that they occasionally pay attention to.

The settlements are not an obstacle to peace. This is the obstacle to peace:

The Hamas Covenant contains an agreement to engage in an advertising campaign to convince Muslims that they have an individual religious duty to murder their neighbors.

The Hamas Covenant must be repudiated. Then, there will be peace.

Good questions, David. Some folks can’t distinguish between “settlements” and “neighborhood”, and between “peace-maker” and “terrorist”.

    Unfortuntely, the write for newspapers (including Conservative ones) and the result is a bunch of “Reliable Sources” to insert their distortions into that ultimate arbiter of reality, Wikipedia.

We should point out that the Congress DECADES AGO passed a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty, in practice, over ALL of Jerusalem.

The whole thing gets me sick to my stomach. Go to Northern Jerusalem. There’s a huge neighborhood called Ramot, that extends from the Green Line westward. What are we supposed to do – knock down a huge swath of apartment buildings and put up a thick wall? Many of the people there have little money; their apartment is all they own. I guess Miss Q hates the poor. There is an Arab there with a compound; came there with the Jordanian invasion in 1949; Israel never chased him out. Is he legitimate and everyone else – a large persentage of whom would be insulted if you called them Zionists – a settler?

It’s really sick. If you live in Jerusalem, you can’t go to the American embassy, you have to go to the “Jerusalem counselate”, which also handles Gaza (by email). If you have a kid, his passport has the birthplace as Jerusalem – no country. Take a look at the Treasury currency conversion list – There is an Israeli Shekel and a “Jerusalem Shekel”. I didn’t know Mayor Barkat was coining money?

By the way, that sign applies to Israeli Arabs too. They aren’t allowed to go to PA terrirtory without a permit, same as for Jews. (The Israeli government will usually grant one for family reasons to my knowledge.)