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Change Of U.S Policy Over West Bank

Updated on 20 November, 2019

GS1 International Relations
change-of-us-policy-over-west-bank

The United States no longer thinks Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law. This new view of U.S is different from that of most countries on this issue.

Background:

  • The West Bank, a patch of land about one and a half times the size of Goa, was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. 
  • Israel snatched it back during the Six-Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since. Israel walked into East Jerusalem in 1967, and subsequently annexed it. 
  • For Israel, Jerusalem is non-negotiable. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
  • It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years. 
  • Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.

Are these Israeli settlements illegal?

  • Most of the world’s nations look at it as an occupied territory.
  • The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court of Justice have said that the West Bank settlements are violative of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
    • Under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
  • Under the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court in 1998, such transfers constitute war crimes.
  • Under the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, both Israel and the Palestinians agreed that the status of settlements would be decided by negotiations. But the negotiations process has been all but dead for several years now.

America’s Stand during the years:

  • In 1978, when Jimmy Carter was President, the State Department concluded that the Israeli settlements were “inconsistent with international law”
  • Soon after taking office in 1981, President Ronald Reagan said the settlements were “illegitimate”, not “illegal”, and repeatedly blocked UN resolutions condemning Israel for them.
  • In 2016, President Barack Obama broke with this policy — and the US did not veto a resolution that called for an end to Israeli settlements.
  • On 18th November,2019 -  U.S said: After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.

Recent Pro Israel moves by U.S:

  • Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017
  • Moving Embassy of U.S in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018
  • Cutting U.S aids to Palestine, however at the same time proposing a peace plan.
  • Coming out from UNESCO due to recognition of disputed territories as palestininan territories by the body
  • Recognised Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in March 2019 which was captured from Syria in 1967.

Trump Peace Plan or Deal of Century:

It is a Israeli–Palestinian peace proposal intended to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict being prepared by the US Trump Administration.

Various news organizations have referred to the plan as the "deal of the century", although this name is not used by U.S administration. 

The plan is divided into two parts, an economic portion and a political portion. On 22 June 2019, the Trump administration released the economic portion of the plan, titled "Peace to Prosperity". The political portion is yet to be released.

What impact will the change have?

  • Those who support the right of Israelis to settle in the West Bank are likely to see the decision as an endorsement. 
  • It will boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has promised sweeping annexations in the West Bank.

Conclusion:

The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations

Source 1 

Source 2

 


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