Yet another policy dispute stirred up by Democrats. On Thursday 100 Democrats submitted a letter to Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, asking the State Department to reconsider its policy to stop calling Israeli settlements a violation of international law.
The letter was authored by rep Andy Levin, D-Mich demanding in no uncertain terms that the State Department reverse this policy immediately. Voters can only assume that Democrats have forgotten that foreign policy is made by the President, not by a group of bickering Democrats. Over a hundred Democrats decided to jump on the Bandwagon as a new opportunity to oppose Trump on something else and signed the letter. Of course, the usual culprits, like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Maxine Waters were leading the pack.
However, in a rare show of solidarity with Israel, some Jewish Democrats refused to sign the letter. Only 7 of the 23 Jewish Democrats in Congress signed the letter to Pompeo.
In typical Democratic fashion the letter preaches:
“In ignoring international law, this administration has undermined America’s moral standing and sent a dangerous message to those who do not share our values: human rights and international law, which have governed the international order and protected U.S. troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply.”
Levin, who is one of the few Jewish Democrats who actually signed the letter (after writing it), claims he recently had a vision of a viable two-state solution while visiting Israel and the West Bank. Not only does he believe that a two-state solution is possible he also believes that it is imminent.
Pompeo last Monday announced that the US Government would discontinue its longstanding position to condemn Israeli settlements as a violation of international law. The move is seen by many as an attempt by the US to strengthen Israel’s position in future negotiations regarding the establishment of a Palestinian State.
In effect, the current administration is rejecting a legal opinion authored by the State Department all the way back in 1978. That legal opinion stated that civilian settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are inconsistent with international law. In addition, Pompeo announced that the US would also be reversing an Obama era decision to pass a UN Security Council resolution condemning the settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law.
This is the second time Trump is breaking with his predecessors. Earlier in his term, Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the only true Israeli capital and move the US embassy to Jerusalem accordingly. Many presidents before Trump have promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem have promised during their campaigns but then later reneged on their promises claiming the conditions on the ground were too volatile for such a provocative move.
Levin further accuses the administration of sabotaging any efforts of brokering a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. He claims that these policy changes “severely damaged prospects for peace, and endangered the security of America, Israel and the Palestinian people.”
The announcement received widespread support from leaders in Israel including Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu called the announcement another historic moment, while many leaders of the international community predictably did not like the announcement.
Federica Mogherini, the Vice President of the European Commission said, “The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”
Other Security Council members called the shift in Israel policy illegal and claim that the announcement would undermine any potential two-state solution.
However, in a gathering in the city of Hebron thousands of Jews celebrated the historic announcement. Leaders said that the announcement is lending a whole new meaning to the traditional celebration of a biblical matriarch. The spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, Yishai Fleisher, praised President Trump saying, “We took time to honor President Trump and the administration and to be appreciative of that brave declaration of truth.”
Fleisher further tweeted later, “35,000 indigenous Jews make #pilgrimage to the Judean city of #Hebron and honor @realDonaldTrump & Administration for supporting our right to live in the ancestral homeland!!”
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the announcement. He said, “The U.S. administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process.”
An unfortunate reality on the ground in the Middle East is that with no near term solution in sight it becomes more and more difficult to maintain policies that ignore the facts. Israel is there to stay, whether the Palestinians like it or not.