6: Occupation and illegal settlements
“If the Arab states go to war against us and we win over them, why should we commit ourselves?” Said David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the east, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula in the south, and the Golan Heights in the north.
Following the Israeli occupation, the UN immediately demanded an Israeli withdrawal. However, UN Resolution 242 , which called for Israeli withdrawal, contained a so-called ” creative ambiguity ” – it called for the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from occupied “territories”, not the occupied “territories” or “all territories”.
With the occupation in 1967 also followed the start of a policy that is defined as contrary to international law under Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, section 6: settlement of one’s own civilian population in occupied territories. As early as 1968, Israel had established new settlements in all the occupied territories, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Sinai, the Golan Heights and Gaza. In the year 2000, 400,000 Israeli settlers lived in the occupied territories.
7: Reasons for increased US support
It has been pointed out that the key to peace in this conflict lies in American hands, because only the United States has enough power to pressure Israel. But after the Cold War, American politics has become increasingly pro-Israel. During the Cold War, a perception developed in the United States that in the Middle East, Syria and Egypt were allies of the Soviet Union, while Israel was an ally of the United States. Not supporting Israel would be tantamount to strengthening the Soviet Union in the area, it was claimed. The United States’ support for Israel therefore went from being grounded in a moral responsibility after the Holocaust, to becoming a military strategic one . With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, such a justification was no longer as important to the Americans. Peace in the Middle East was nevertheless a US foreign policy priority.
According to cachedhealth, Bill Clinton was the first American president to be elected after the Cold War. When he was elected in 1992, he was the favorite of American Jews. 60 percent of the money for his campaign came from Jewish sources, and 80 percent of American Jews voted for him. And Bill Clinton became the most pro-Israel president in history in the sense that he changed fundamental pillars of American Middle East policy. The West Bank and Gaza were no longer referred to as “occupied territories”. The settlements were no longer referred to as “illegal” or as “obstacles to peace” as under previous administrations, but as a “complicating factor”. Clinton further referred to Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of Israel”, despite the fact that most UN countries did not recognize Jerusalem as the capital. The Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem was considered illegal, and therefore most countries have retained their embassies in Tel Aviv. After 1993, the United States abstained for the first time from supporting UN Resolution 194, which gives Palestinian refugees the right to return or compensation. The Americans now announced that the refugees were not an international responsibility, but a question that was up to the parties to agree on through direct negotiations, this despite the obvious asymmetry (imbalance) in the balance of power between the parties.
However, it is especially after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 and with US President George Bush jr. that US support for Israel has gained new content and new strength. With the United States’ war on Islamist terror, Israel had once again become a key military-strategic ally. The two countries forged even stronger ties through a sense of being “in the same boat” – of facing the same security challenges. Commentators have also pointed out that perhaps even more important has been a combination of being at war and increasing the emphasis on traditional American values. U.S. core values have under Bush jr. and his administration became less liberal and more Christian-fundamentalist. This has increased American identification with Israel. At the same time, protecting Israel is seen as protecting American civilization.
An overwhelming American support for Israel does not offer good prospects for a peaceful solution. The boycott of Hamas makes many Palestinians feel let down by the West once again. According to the Roadmap for Peace, the establishment of a Palestinian state would follow the second Palestinian parliamentary election. When the new and democratically elected authorities are boycotted, the Palestinians ask themselves whether they have the right to a separate state only as long as they vote as required by outside powers. Together with what is perceived as one-sided American support for Israel, this means that large sections of the population in the Middle East view the West’s policy towards the Palestinians as another expression of Western double standards.