President Biden Reverses U.S. Policy on Settlements

(Wall Street Journal) Editorial - Now is the time, President Biden has decided, to campaign against Israeli settlements. If this were a priority, he could have done it at any point in the past three years. The policy change occurred in the lead up to Tuesday's Michigan Democratic primary, in which Arab-American groups sought to embarrass the President. Some coincidence. The West Bank area was included in the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine granted to Britain to create a Jewish "national home." Israel has a real claim, and so do the Palestinians - hence the dispute. The area, also known as Judea and Samaria, is the biblical Jewish heartland. Israel conquered it in 1967 not from Palestine, but from Jordan, which had invaded Israel. Jordan had occupied the West Bank since seizing it in 1948, after which it expelled every Jew. Can the Israelis who later returned - and their children and grandchildren - all be condemned as squatters and international criminals? U.S. policy has generally maintained that the dispute is fundamentally political, to be resolved in final-status negotiations rather than by lawyers or biased international bodies. President Reagan rejected the view that Israeli settlements are illegal, and that position held across U.S. administrations until President Obama's parting shot. In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo found that the settlements are "not per se inconsistent with international law." Criminalizing all 500,000 Israelis in the West Bank won't bring peace closer. It tells the Palestinians, who have rebuffed every offer of statehood, that they needn't make concessions. The U.S. will make their dreams come true. On Feb. 1, Biden created an open-ended sanctions regime that can hit any Israelis deemed to "threaten the peace, security, or stability of the West Bank," as well as their U.S. supporters. The entire Palestinian leadership would fit that criteria, but Biden is trying to award them a state. Violence by Israelis is thankfully a marginal phenomenon, and it has declined since Oct. 7. The picture of wanton violence by Israeli civilians against peaceful Palestinians is an inversion of West Bank reality. In the first half of 2023, Israeli civilians living there faced more than 500 attacks a month.

2024-03-01 00:00:00

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