A true friend does not indulge or encourage the behavior of their friend that will ultimately do self-harm to their friend. Unfortunately, President Trump continues to indulge and encourage the behavior of America’s closest friend in the Middle East, creating great harm to the future of Israel.
In June of 1967 Israel, out of fear for its future, reacted to Egypt’s request that the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) on its border with Israel be removed, Egypt’s closure of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli ships which caused a blockade of the port city of Elat in southern Israel, and Egypt entering into a military alliance with Jordan, Iraq, and Syria against Israel started the Six-Day War to secure the future of Israel.
The Six-Day War to secure the future of Israel started on June 5th, by Israel staging a surprise preemptive air strike on both the Egyptian and Syrian air forces. The preemptive strikes destroyed over 90 percent of Egypt’s air force and equally devastated Syria’s air force while both were still stationed on the ground. Egypt’s inability to provide its ground troops with air cover left them vulnerable, enabling Israel’s ground troops to capture the Gaza Strip and all of the Sinai Peninsula up to the east bank of the Suez Canal. On June 7th the Israeli army drove the Jordanian army out of East Jerusalem taking control of the old city of Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Also on June 7th, the United Nations (UN) Security Council called for a cease-fire that was immediately accepted by Israel and Jordan. Egypt agreed to the cease-fire the next day, but Syria held out and continued to attack Israel. On June 9 after a day of heavy fighting Israel’s army captured the Golan Heights from Syrian forces. On June 10th Syria finally accepted the cease-fire. The end of the Six-Day War brought more than one million Palestinians under Israeli rule and made Israel occupiers of the territories that they captured from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The occupied territories would turn out to be both a help and a hindrance in the quest to secure the future of Israel.
The occupied territories were helpful in securing the future of Israel because they became the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242. The resolution, which was adopted by the UN Security Council in November 1967 with America’s support, implemented the “ land for peace “ formula calling for Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in exchange for peace with its neighbors. This land for peace principle has been a core principle of the United States foreign policy towards Israel and all other countries in the Middle East.
The United States used the land for peace formula in the successful 1978 Camp David Accords, when then President Jimmy Carter mediated an agreement that led to the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. In accordance with the peace treaty terms, Israel withdrew from the Egyptian territories it occupied since the Six-Day War, creating a peaceful relationship with Egypt that has lasted for 40 years. Its living proof that peace is possible with other Middle Eastern countries in the future of Israel if the land for peace formula is applied.
While Israel was supportive of the UN’s passage of the land for peace formula it has taken actions that are counterproductive to it. Instead of returning the land it captured in the Six-Day War in exchange for peace negotiations with Jordan, Syria and Palestinian refugees, Israel has constructed housing settlements for Israeli citizens and Israeli government administrative structures on the occupied land. The United States along with the vast majority of the international community of nations considered this to be a violation of international law under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
America views itself as a true friend of Israel and views Israel as its closest and most trusted friend in the Middle East. America demonstrates its true friendship to Israel through the ENORMOUS annual military and economic aid it provides to Israel. This aid elevates Israel from a third-world nation status to a first-world capability. As a true friend to Israel America, the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, has always encouraged the return of the occupied territories by implementing the land for peace formula as the best way forward to secure the future of Israel.
Since the conclusion of the 1967 Six-Day War, a key component of United States Middle East policy has been to discourage its friend Israel from building housing settlements on territories Israel occupies. The possession of the occupied territories jeopardizes the future of Israel because it is the source of resentment, ill will, and the willingness to commit terrorism against Israel by some of its Arab neighbors.
Encouraging Israel to withdraw from occupied territories was a key component to former President Carter’s Camp David Accords, to former President George H.W. Bush’s refusal of $10 billion in loan guarantees unless Israel stopped building settlements in occupied territories, to former President Bill Clinton’s Oslo Accords which created a Palestinian Authority with limited self-governance of parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to former President George W. Bush’s success in convincing Israel to withdraw all housing settlements from the Gaza Strip, and in December 2016 President Obama’s refusal to exercise America’s veto of UN Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution stated that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”.
Unfortunately, America’s effort to be a true friend by not encouraging behavior that would harm the future of Israel would end with the election of President Trump. President Trump has done the following 3 things that will harm the future of Israel:
In May of 2018, President Trump did what former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama decided wisely not to do, he opened America’s embassy in the city of Jerusalem. No other country in the world has currently located its embassy in Jerusalem. Several countries located their embassies in West Jerusalem before 1980 according to the 1947 United Nations partition plan, it declared West Jerusalem the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capitol of Palestine.
In 1980 Israel passed a law that declared all of Jerusalem the united capital of Israel, the UN responded by passing a resolution condemning Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and declared it a violation of international law. All the countries that had embassies located in West Jerusalem relocated them out of Jerusalem. Former American presidents choose not to indulge Israel by locating the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem because they knew it would harm the future of Israel. Palestinians will never make peace with Israel while Israel occupies East Jerusalem.
Ending Economic Aid to Palestinian Authority
In February the Trump administration announced that “All USAID assistance in the West Bank and Gaza has ceased.” The announcement has Israeli officials concerned because the aid fostered security co-operation with Israeli forces, and helped to build the capacity of the Palestinian police and prosecutors, enabling them to carry out their investigations and daily work to maintain peace and prevent terrorist acts against Israel. USAID also supported hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinians to fund humanitarian projects such as health, education, and infrastructure improvements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Trump administration also ended all US funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, it had given more than $360 million in 2017. The cuts are viewed as a way to get Palestinians back to the peace talks. The Palestinian leadership has boycotted peace talks because President Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. In response to the cut in aid Ambassador Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s General Delegation to the United States, said in a statement: “Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.” Ending economic aid to the Palestinians removes an incentive for them to make peace with Israel and adds additional harm to the future of Israel.
Reversing 40 years of U.S. Policy
In a move that could be considered the final nail in the coffin for Middle East peace for the future of Israel, the Trump administration has announced it is changing U.S. policy. It will no longer consider housing settlements built by Israel on the West Bank a violation of international law. This move changes 40 years of U.S. policy that declared Israeli expansion into occupied territories a major obstacle to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It denies Palestinians the land designated for a Palestinian state by the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine. Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement “Israeli settlements steal Palestinian land, seize and exploit Palestinian natural resources, and divide, displace and restrict the movement of the people of Palestine”.
President Trump’s decisions to indulge Israel in its violations of international law, his move to inflict economic pain on Israel’s chief adversary, are long term and possible fatal wounds that a true friend hoping for the best possible future of Israel would never commit!!!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at https://isaacnewtonfarris.com on November 20, 2019.