Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
July 19, 2023
State Department policy
*The June 2023 banning of all Israeli research and scientific entities in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Golan Heights from the mutually-beneficial US-Israel binational commercial research and development projects, such as BIRD, BARD and BSF, reflects the return of the State Department to the center stage of foreign policy making.
*The State Department provided an essential tailwind to the Ayatollahs’ rise to power in Iran and the toppling of the Shah, who was “America’s policeman in the Gulf.” Foggy Bottom contended that the Ayatollahs would be moderate, anti-Soviet, pro-US, preoccupied with tractors and not with tanks, and refrain from the global exportation of the Islamic Revolution….
*The State Department considered Saddam Hussein as a potential ally (until the day of his 1990 invasion of Kuwait), worthy of an intelligence-sharing agreement, financial assistance, and the supply of advanced dual-use systems. It communicated to the ruthless despot that a military invasion of Kuwait would be treated as an intra-Arab matter.
*Foggy Bottom welcomed the 2010 turbulence on the Arab Street – which is still raging – as a “Facebook and youth revolution” and the “Arab Spring,” failing to realize that it has been an Arab Tsunami.
*The State Department establishment has opposed the Abraham Accords because they bypassed the Palestinian issue, centering on Arab interests,. However, all of the State Department’s own peace initiatives have crashed on the rocks of Middle East reality, because they dwelt on the superficial assumption that the Palestinian issue was the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a crown jewel of Arab policy making and a core cause of regional turbulence.
*Since January 2021, the State Department has resumed its role as the chief foreign policy maker, as evidenced by the shift from unilateral policy making – based on an independent US national security action – to multilateral policy making, seeking a common denominator with the anti-US UN and international organizations, as well as with Europe, which has lost its will to flex a muscle against Iran’s Ayatollahs and Sunni Islamic terrorism.
*In July 2023, reflecting its multilateral policy, the US rejoined UNESCO, following the 2011 congressional suspension of the annual US contribution to the organization, and the 2018 US withdrawal from UNESCO for falsely disclaiming the 4,000-year-old Jewish roots in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria – the cradle of Jewish history, religion, culture and language, as documented by a litany of archeological findings throughout the area.
In fact, the rejoining of UNESCO commits the US to transfer to UNESCO all its arrears, which amount to some $600mn.
Legal status of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria
The State Department claims that banning Israeli research and scientific entities in Judea and Samaria from the mutually beneficial US-Israel binational commercial research and development projects is consistent with international law. The State Department claims that international law considers Judea and Samaria an “illegal occupied” area, and that the UN Security Council Resolution 242 mandates an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.
Is it true?
*According to Prof. Eugene Rostow, a former Dean of Yale University Law School and Undersecretary of State, who co-authored the November 22, 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242: “[Under international law], Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa…. [According to Resolution 242], Israel is required to withdraw ‘from territories,’ not from ‘the territories,’ nor from ‘all the territories,’ but from some of the territories, which included the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Desert and the Golan Heights…. Proposed resolutions calling for withdrawal from ‘all the territories’ were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly…. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable 8-15-mile-wide lines… but to ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries, agreed to by the parties…. In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai… [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories….”
*Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, a former President of the International Court of Justice, Deputy Legal Advisor at the State Department and Prof. of International Law at Johns Hopkins University stated: “[The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive… as indicated by Egypt’s prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, the blockade of the port of Eilat and the amassing of troops in Sinai… [and] Jordan-initiated hostilities against Israel…. Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1950 were unlawful…. Modification of the 1949 armistice lines [by Israel] were lawful….”
*The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following binding internationally ratified documents:
<The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, which called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people [on both sides of the Jordan River]…. Nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine….;”
<The April 24, 1920 San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration, and carved the boundaries of over 20 countries in the Middle East;
<The July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine, ratified by the Council of the League of Nations, and dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights;
<The October 24, 1945 Article 80 of the UN Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine, which means that Jewish rights in Palestine are legal and may not be transferred;
<The November 29, 1947 General Assembly Partition Resolution was non-binding and superseded by the Mandate for Palestine.
The bottom line
*The State Department’s determination that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria constitutes “illegal occupation” has been based on mistaken and misleading interpretation of international law. This determination has yielded false expectations among rogue elements in the Middle East (e.g., Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorists and Iran’s rogue Ayatollahs), which has undermined the attempts to minimize regional instability and advance the cause of peaceful coexistence.
*The decision to punish Israel, by blackballing research institutions in Judea and Samaria – while courting the rogue Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and the hate-education Palestinian Authority – is interpreted as an erosion of US’ regional stature by pro-US Arab regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. These regimes have expanded their defense and commercial cooperation with Israel irrespective of the Palestinian issue. In additon, they have also been subjected to US pressure; they oppose the US diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs, and they are concerned about the lack of a determined US response to Iran’s aggression (which has pushed them closer to China and Russia).