Professor Zaki Shalom has a rather radical approach that he proposes as regards the American position vis a vis the Jewish communities in Yesha. In an article published in BESA’s Strategic Assessment bulletin, The United States and the Israeli Settlements: Time for a Change, he basically suggest the US give up on their finger-wagging at Israel’s policies of furthering Jewish residency in Judea and Samaria. Despite the contentious American attitude and it straining the relationship between the two allies, he suggests that
perhaps the American administration might consider whether there is any value in continuing to express sweeping opposition to the settlement enterprise.
And he suggest that, perhaps, the time come for a change in US policy on the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and punctuates that further, writing
continuing to embrace the routine formula opposing the settlements in a sweeping manner damages the status of the United States and its relations with Israel, and does not lead to an achievement that would serve the national interests of the United States.
He reviews the history of the statements issued by presidents and secretaries of states, and notes the Regan view who asserted that he does not accept the illegality of the settlements. According to Reagan, Judea and Samaria should be open to the residency of members of all religious faiths, Jews, Muslims, and Christians even as he criticized the way in which the project was conducted, as he felt it was “unnecessarily provocative”. Obama, as we know, prefers the term “illegitimate” which I consider not only to be in error but quite immoral. He even quotes US Ambassador to Israel, and Yeshiva University graduate Daniel Kurtzer who, on May 29, 2002, said,
It is a fact that we have opposed the settlements for decades and you continue to build them and we have done nothing untoward to you [in response]. If Israel wants, it can even expand to the borders promised in the Bible. The question is whether it is able to do so from a security and political standpoint
He includes Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Edward Djerejian who stated on March 9, 1993 that the United States understood the need for some settlement activity:
certainly continuing some activity, construction activities in existing settlements. And that’s basically in terms of natural growth and basic, immediate needs in those settlements…
and another observation of Djerejian some eight years later, on April 12, 2001, that
Some of the major settlements could be consolidated, and these settlers could become more confident of their eventual status as part of Israel.
He points out the acceptance by the GWBush Administration the continuation of construction within the limits of existing communities which was included in the understanding reached with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, although Barack Obama has seemingly gone back on that official policy understanding, even attempting the threaten Israel over the building in the newer post 1067 neighborhoods in Jerusalem, the country’s capital.
Shalom does not go further back to the 1920s when the American Congress and President Harding formally recognized the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute their Jewish national home in the area which included, at least, all of today’s Israel and Judea, Samaria and Gaza. He misses Madeline Albright’s admission, when the then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s "The Today Show" on October 1, 1997, asked in relation to building in Yesha and said: “I wasn''t happy…I felt that going forward with those kinds of buildings was not helpful. But when Lauer pressed her, she reaffirmed that the presence of Jewish communities in Yesha: “ It''s legal.”
Shalom’s plan includes a reiteration of the ‘land for peace’ formula, the Oslo accords, and the two-state vision; that the future borders of a Palestinian state will not be afffected; that there’ll be no new communities of territorial expansion of existing ones although allowances will be made for the purposes of natural growth and maintenance of normal life; no land confiscation nor incentives provided to Israelis to move into them.
I wonder what the American response will be.
In any case, I could live with that.