US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Defense Minister Benny Gantz that Israel’s plan to approve a minimal number of desperately needed Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria was “unacceptable.” Blinken also imperiously and condescendingly demanded that he “expects Israel to pay greater consideration in the future [to] the US position on the settlements,” as if Israel were a banana republic. Similarly, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price publicly attacked Israel and “strongly opposed” Israeli plans to approve minimal Jewish housing units during Tuesday’s public State Department briefing.
The Biden administration’s attacks are discriminatory and antisemitic – as evidenced by Blinken and Price saying nothing about the 60,000 illegal Palestinian-Arab buildings erected with EU funding in the areas of Judea/Samaria under Israeli jurisdiction (Area C), and not opposing Israel’s approval of Arab homes being built in Israeli areas. Demanding that only Jews must curtail building homes in the Jewish homeland – while Palestinian Arabs can build as they please – would be illegal under numerous US housing discrimination and human rights laws.
These anti-Israel attacks ignore that (1) Israeli communities in Judea Samaria only comprise 3% of Judea/Samaria, and (2) the Palestinians, in any event, won’t accept a State there if it means accepting Israel as a Jewish state, since they’ve turned down such statehood offers in 1937, 1948, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2014. And they didn’t establish a Palestinian Arab State from 1948-67 when the Arabs controlled all of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Their goal is Israel’s destruction, not statehood.
The Biden administration’s attacks also violate Israeli sovereignty, international law and US treaty obligations. Judea and Samaria are historic areas of the Jewish homeland, where Jewish kingdoms existed for centuries, and Jews have lived for thousands of years.
Judea and Samaria are areas guaranteed to the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish state under binding international law – including the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations Covenant, the Mandate, the Anglo-American Convention, and UN Charter Article 80. The latter two international agreements are binding US treaty obligations, which constitute the “supreme law of the land” in the US under the Constitution. In 2019, the US recognized that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are legal.
In addition, the Biden administration’s public attacks violate the “Biden Doctrine” that the US should not publicly criticize its friend and ally Israel.
During Biden’s 2001 address at the ZOA’s Brandeis dinner, Biden insisted that the US should not publicly chastise its friend Israel, and explained that public criticism “emboldens those in the Middle East and around the world who still harbor as their sacred goal the elimination of Israel... It is not for you to tell them [Israel], nor for me, what is in their best interests. We should give Israel the right to determine what chances they will take.”
Israel has nonetheless been bending over backward to appease the Biden administration – at the cost of Jewish families who need a place to live. Specifically:
• Israel’s Civil Administration’s Planning Council did not meet for 10 months (since before Biden’s inauguration), which constituted a de facto freeze on building Jewish homes.
• The Planning Council is finally planning to meet now to approve 3,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria. This is a fraction of the housing that is needed by growing Israeli Jewish families, and the record-breaking numbers of Jews making aliyah in the wake of increasing antisemitism throughout the world.
• Israel appeased the Biden administration by lowering Jewish housing units by 39%. As Gantz told Blinken, the defense minister had reduced, to the greatest possible extent, the number of housing units for Jews that was to be approved.
• Meanwhile, Israel gave approval for the construction of 1,300 homes for Palestinian Arabs in Area C, which is under full Israeli control.
• Gantz approved (unwarranted) registration of 4,000 Palestinian Arabs in the Judea and Samaria population registry, and advised Blinken that Israel “plan[s] to take more such steps soon.”
Clearly, appeasing the Biden/Blinken administration doesn’t work.
That administration adopted extremely dangerous rationales for their discriminatory demands on Israel. For instance, Price wrongly claimed that “expansion of settlements... is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm.” This essentially adopted the radical Islamist view that we can’t have “calm” if Jews live in the Jewish homeland.
Price failed to mention the real causes of the lack of calm: the Palestinian Authority’s non-stop incitement of Jew-hatred, and paying Arabs to murder Jews and Americans.
The Biden administration has many pressing domestic and foreign policy issues that require its attention. It’s time for the administration to stop spending its time wrongly interfering with and attacking our greatest ally, the peace-loving democratic Jewish State of Israel.
The writer is president of the Zionist Organization of America.