Many of my readers are probably aware that the Palestinians have been working to bring a resolution to the UN Security Council that would reaffirm the obvious fact that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The Obama Administration is hemming and hawing about the resolution, obviously uncomfortable with it but unable to explain why it would consider vetoing a resolution so obviously consistent with stated US policy on the matter.
It’s more difficult for Obama than for previous presidents because he has been so vocal about settlements, but has consistently avoided taking any concrete action about them. Israel knows very well the boundaries: they will not respond to mere US statements, but if there is the threat that the US will take action, they will be much more responsive. That doesn’t happen often.
Expansion of the Givat Ze'ev settlement block near Jerusalem. The picture was taken on 10 August 2005 from the Palestinian village Beit Duku. Photo credit: Kareem Jubran, B'Tselem
In Part II of this post, you will find a letter from an impressive array of former leading diplomats and intellectuals on the Middle East urging Obama to have his ambassador support the anti-settlement resolution at the UN.
Here, though, look at this exchange between a reporter and the State Department’s spokesman, PJ Crowley. The double-talk overflows, and one finally feels a bit sorry for Crowley being in the position of having to defend the Obama Administrations actions which clearly contradict US policy.
QUESTION: Let’s see, where to begin? There are so many places. I’ll – can I start with the Middle East and the Palestinians talking about this resolution that they want to put into the Security Council this week which would condemn Israeli settlement activity. At the same time, they’re continuing their push to get countries to recognize their independence, even without a negotiated settlement. They raised the flag at their mission downtown here today, this morning.
MR. CROWLEY: Which, on that particular point, we had agreed months ago, but it doesn’t change their status in any way.
QUESTION: Well, no, but their status changed in August.
MR. CROWLEY: No, but the granting permission to raise the flag –
QUESTION: Well, that’s actually part of my question. Continue reading