Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The mistaken partisanship of seeing Israel in the context of American politics, not Middle Eastern reality - by Jonathan S. Tobin

Reaction to Trump’s latest decision once again proves that liberal Jewish groups see Israel in the context of American politics, not Middle Eastern reality.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
19 November '19..

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that the United States no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be in violation of international law, most Israelis were clearly pleased. But a good portion of American Jews weren’t. This tells us more about American Jewish priorities and indifference to what Israelis think than it does about what’s good for the Jewish state or arguments about international law.

As was the case with the Trump administration’s moves on Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Iran nuclear deal and accountability for the Palestinian Authority’s support of terrorism, all the major Israeli political parties greeted the announcement with support. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his leading rival, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, agreed that America was right to scrap its old insistence that Jews had no right to live outside the 1949 armistice lines.

That latter point is crucial to understanding a basic fact about Israeli political reality. Gantz, who remains locked in a standoff with Netanyahu and his allies over the composition of the next Israeli government, actually received a heads up about Pompeo’s impending statement before it was issued.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman called Gantz and informed him of the decision. Had Gantz expressed opposition or had he asked that the Americans delay their announcement, a State Department source told the press that the administration would have complied with the request. To the contrary, after Pompeo spoke, Gantz approved of his move, saying explicitly that the fate of the “settlements and the residents of Judea and Samaria should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote a peace that will serve both sides while reflecting the reality on the ground.”

(Continue to Full Column)

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