December 16, 2019
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
THE SETTLEMENT SITUATION
One of the major headlines in Israel has been the American declaration that the Israeli settlements in the area claimed by the Palestinians are now not considered illegal. In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced that settlements in the West Bank area are now considered acceptable. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced a position once taken by former President Ronald Reagan that they were not considered inherently illegal.
The Trump administration felt it was ambushed in the waning days of the Obama Presidency when Obama went against Trump’s expressed wishes and allowed the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that claimed such settlements were a “flagrant violation under international law.” The position stated by Pompeo rejects that previous perspective.
Of course, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately praised the decision as correct and rejected the idea that under international law the settlements in Judea and Samaria were illegal. In turn, the Palestinians completely rejected the new US position and saw the statement as further evidence of the American basis against the Palestinians. Their denunciation was scathing.
A letter from 106 Democratic representatives to Pompeo called on him to reverse his declaration that the settlements were currently considered legal. They stated that Pompeo’s declaration blatantly disregarded international legal standards. The letter written by Dore Gold claims that this decision casts doubt on Israel’s moral position.
What’s going on here?
Fundamentally, it’s politics. Netanyahu is in serious legal trouble and could wind up in jail. Trump has stuck his nose in Israel’s business to affect how Netanyahu is viewed. Nothing new here. Trump had sided with Israel previously with such moves as bringing the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Trump is now facing impeachment and his own legal troubles.
How one feels about these divisive issues rejects the position one took before the turmoil ever began.
Enthusiastic supporters of Israel view these actions as affirming their position. Individuals concerned with the rights of the Palestinians consider the matter as further evidence that America has lost all credibility in the Middle East and no longer can act to bring peace.
Fundamentally, the issue reflects the deep divide in American politics. Republicans do not seem to care what is the evidence against Trump. Democrats don’t want to just impeach Trump. They want to launch him.
Once more. a deep divide exists around the world. With Christmas shortly upon us, perhaps this is a good time to reconsider the meaning of the coming Prince of Peace. The world needs a new perspective.
You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers