Opinions of Peter Belmont
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Why the USA opposes UNSC resolution calling Israeli settlements illegal

by Peter A. Belmont / 2011-02-18
© 2011 Peter Belmont


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The USA has made many explanations of why it opposes the proposed UNSC resolution calling Israeli settlements illegal. Almost, perhaps, as many explanations as the second Bush Administration gave for its decision to start a war of aggression against Iraq.

Always be wary of too many explanations. And of really stupid ones.

”We do not feel the Security Council is the place to resolve these issues.”

That contention is absurd on its face, as MJ Rosenberg points out. The UNSC is precisely the place where violations of international law need to be dealt with, and it is also the body that bears the most responsibility for keeping the peace in the world. If this is not what the UNSC is for, then what purpose does it serve?
From here.

”[I]t fears that if the resolution passes it will be an obstacle to renewal of peace talks.” Ha’aretz.

”And finally, we have long said that we believe direct negotiations are the only path through which the parties will ultimately reach an agreement.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

What these statements suggest—duplicitously, of course—is that there is any conflict whatever between actions aiming at a legally conducted occupation, on the one hand, and actions aiming at an end to the occupation (e.g., with a peace treaty), on the other.

Put more directly, and pace Gerald Ford, it is actually possible to do two things at the same time. One can pursue a peace treaty while, at the same time, pursuing a legally-conducted occupation. If the settlements are illegal—and they are, for they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention—then the international community should do what it can to see them removed whether or not anyone is making any efforts to arrive at a “just and lasting peace” treaty.

No one, not the USA and not the UN, should (at present) presume to impose a peace treaty on Israel or on the Palestinians.

But while the world waits—having waited 43 years already—for an end to the occupation, why should not the nations who have already agreed, by signing the Fourth Geneva Convention, to “ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances”, act to end Israel’s violations of the convention?

And asserting (once again, of course) that the settlements are illegal is good first step toward more energetic steps (see here and here) by the international community to take its proper place in the matter of enforcement of international agreements.

I expect that this is exactly what the USA fears will happen: that the international community will begin with a small resolution calling the settlements illegal and progress from it to a larger resolution (calling for removal of all settlers and dismantlement of all settlements—as UNSC 465 (1980) did, in fact—and for dismantling of the “apartheid” wall) leading ultimately to a resolution armed with sanctions to force Israel to comply with the convention.

Would such resolutions, whether or not successful, interfere with peace-making? I would say that there is no evidence of any peace-making having happened in the last 20 years. International action could only speed things up, not slow them down.

The USA policy has, for years, been this: to say that I/P is the USA’s possession, it’s own plaything. If it is a problem then it is the USA’s problem, and no one else’s. Others kindly keep out.

That is the meaning of the USA’s constant use of its veto in the UNSC.

I trust that Egypt and WikiLeaks and the Al-Jazeera-published Palestine Papers have made enough of a change in world politics that the USA can no longer get away with using its veto to say “the world is flat”. We’ll see today.

PS. The USA vetoed the resolution. The changes in the world have not been profound enough to change the USA’s political system, which privileges pro-extreme-Zionism above all other concerns.


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