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Crosstalk: UN vote on Israel — good or bad?

The Israel settlements in the occupied territories have their origins in the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria June 5-10, 1967.

In that war, about a million Palestinians were captured.

Over the following years, Jordan and Egypt dropped their claims to the West Bank, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula and Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

In a March 1979 peace treaty, Israel agreed to return the Sinai to Egypt, and in 2005 pulled out of Gaza.

In 1968, Jews from around the world began migrating to Israel. Israeli officials begin drafting an official settlement map. Settler outposts were envisioned in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Hebron, the Golan Heights, Sinai and Gaza.

In December of 2016, the United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution to end Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. Fourteen of 15 council members agreed — only the U.S. abstained.

That abstention has been criticized, but aligns with U.S. policy dating back to the original war:

• “By setting up civilian or quasi-civilian outposts in the occupied areas, the government of Israel adds serious complications to the eventual task of drawing up a peace settlement (and is) contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states 'The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies,'” wrote Louis J. Smith in a statement from the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel in 1968, speaking for the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

• “Confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings...and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of (Jerusalem) are detrimental to our common interests,” wrote Charles Yost, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Security Council in 1969, speaking for the Nixon administration. “An occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property...and must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible.”

• “Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the convention and cannot be considered to have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations between the parties...” wrote William Scranton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under the Nixon administration, in 1967.

• “Our position on the settlements is very clear. We do not think they are legal,” said President Jimmy Carter in a 1980 interview.

• In President Ronald Reagan’s view, Israeli settlement was not illegal, but merely “ill-advised” and “unnecessarily provocative.”

• President George H.W. Bush said, in 1990, “My position is that the foreign policy of the U.S. says we do not believe there should be new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.”

• President Bill Clinton, in a farewell address to the Middle East in 2001, said “The Israeli people also must understand that . . . the settlement enterprise and building bypass roads in the heart of what they already know will one day be part of a Palestinian state is inconsistent with the Oslo commitment.”

• President George W. Bush said, in 2002, that “consistent with the Mitchell plan, Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories must stop, and the occupation must end...consistent with U.N. Resolutions.”

• Speaking for the Obama administration, Ambassador Susan Rice said, in 2011, "We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity...has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability."

Israel's continued settlement construction has undermined all attempts for lasting peace.

Following the Dec. 23, 2016, U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution to end Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories,

Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Some seem to believe...the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles — even after urging again and again that the policy must change.

“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect,” he added.

I agree.

— Mark Gibson

Hold on Israel, only 10 more days to go until the United States can once again begin backing its greatest ally and the only free-market and genuinely democratic nation in the Middle East.

I fully support a bipartisan resolution in the U.S. Senate that rejects the United Nation Security Council’s recent vote to condemn Israeli settlements erected in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The U.S. House also has my support with plans to either cut or eliminate funding for the U.N. (we provide more than 20 percent of its budget) in response to the vote.

The Obama Administration’s decision not to stand behind Israel and abstain from this vote that empowered Israel’s many enemies in the region cannot be tolerated.

By a vote of 14-0, the UN voted against Israeli settlement activity in disputed territories it captured in the Six-Day War of 1967. When you declare war on a country and fail to win, you lose whatever ground is taken.

If the U.S. had exercised its veto power, the resolution would have been nullified. As it stands, Israel has been isolated and its enemies emboldened in both the political and legal arenas. This recent debacle is just another example of how Obama’s foreign policy has been such a disaster — and why our allies can no longer believe that we will have their backs.

We are supposed to be the superpower that encourages freedom and Israel is the only country in the hotbed of the Middle East to share our political, religious and cultural traditions.

Freedom House, a watchdog group over governments around the world, rates every nation by its political and civil rights. In the Middle East, only Israel earns a “free” ranking. The Palestinian Authority, located just miles away, has been ranked “not free” with a cumulative score of 30 on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being totally free.

Because of Palestinian intolerance and tyranny, the Christian population in that territory has dropped from 15 percent in 1950 to 1.3 percent.

In Bethlehem, the Palestinian Christian population stands at 15 percent, down from 70 percent.

Conversely, the Christian population in Israel has increased by a factor of five since its founding.

It is time for the U.S. to finally deal with the UN’s long-simmering hatred of Israel, which is reflected in 62 condemnations from 2006 to 2015.

Meanwhile, all of the other member nations combined — including those where women are stoned and gays are killed — have received 55 condemnations.

Iran, a major sponsor of terror activity around the world, has received five.

Somalia and Sudan, both known for genocide and horrific human rights violations, have received zero. Saudi Arabia, which imprions political dissidents and worse, has also received zero, as have China and Russia, which are totalitarian regimes.

By the Freedom House rating, Israel is freer than eight of the 14 UN member nations that voted to condemn it.

The Middle East surrounding Israel is a human rights nightmare.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died in the ruins of Syria, the reach of the Islamic State has spread from Iraq and Iran is on the path to become nuclear, thanks to Obama’s bungled deal.

Support for Israel is vital to promoting freedom in oppressed nations around the world.

Unilaterally relinquishing Gaza did not bring Israel closer to peace. Instead, the terror group Hamas was emboldened to use the region as a launching pad for attacks on civilians going about their daily business in Israel.

By giving up land, Israel got more terror. How could it be otherwise when the stated goal of Palestinian leaders and much of the Arab world is to annihilate Israel.

It is ludicrous to think that establishment of a separate Palestinian state will result in peace.

Interestingly, at a time when the U.S. has abandoned Israel, the tiny country has discovered huge natural gas and oil finds off the Mediterranean coast and in the Golan Heights, making it less dependent upon other nations for fossil fuels.

Israel has also established a global hub of cybersecurity research at Beersheba, which has also strengthened the country economically.

If there is any hope of peace in the Middle East, it will come through the example set by this scrappy little country that thrives in adversity.

— RaeLynn Ricarte


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