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An Open Letter to John Kerry Regarding Israel's Newly Announced Settlement

Submitted by Robin Messing on Mon, 09/01/2014 - 6:30am

Dear Secretary Kerry:

Israel has just announced that it is grabbing 988 acres of land from five Palestinian villages in the West Bank to build a new settlement named Gvaot.  They claim that this is in response to kidnapping and murder of three teenagers earlier this summer.  The U.S. government has responded by saying that this is counterproductive to negotiating a two-state solution and meekly urging Israel to reverse its decision.

This response is insufficient.  It is time to tell the Israelis, "Enough is enough!"  It is time to tell them, in no uncertain terms that their settlement building is illegal and has the potential to jeopardize U.S. national security.  This may sound ridiculous, but under a worst case scenario the Israeli's could end up calling on the U.S. to help it militarily defend its illegal settlements in the West Bank.  Of course, Israel is overwhelmingly strong now and could easily put down any uprising.  But imagine this unlikely but possible scenario:

1.  The government of Egypt is overthrown by a new generation of jihadis who are disgusted by its ruthless dictatorial rule.  This new government would be much more hostile towards Israel.

2.  The government of Jordan becomes hostile towards Israel--possibly as a result of Israel instituting unilateral changes in the status of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif

3.  Egypt and Jordan attack Israel while Israel is involved in a war with Iran. 

4.  Palestinians take this opportunity to revolt in the West Bank and launch missiles from Gaza.

5.  Some of the 20 percent of Israel's population that is Palestinian decide to protest their second class citizenship by going on strike or taking more extreme measures to hurt Israel during its war effort.

If these events happen Israel might find its back against the wall and ask the U.S. for military help.  We should never have to find ourselves in a position of deciding whether to help Israel maintain its occupation militarily. It is in our national interest to do everything we can to promote a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to ensure that this nightmare scenario never unfolds.  Further settlement construction is an impediment to a peaceful resolution via a two-state solution and thus has the potential to jeopardize our national security interests.

It is time to DEMAND Israel to stop.  We have been pushed around by Israel too many times.  We have asked Israel many times in the past not to build more settlements, and almost every time they have raised their middle finger to us and said "screw you".  Israel's defense minister, Moshe Ya'alon made his contempt for your help in the peace negotiations known when he said, " The only thing that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace."  Netanyahu showed his contempt for the us when he told us "not to ever second guess me [on Hamas] again".  How many times does Israel have to insult us before we put OUR national interests first and push back?

It is long past time for you and the Administration to grow a backbone and lay down the law.  You must remind Netanyahu that the U.S. has been the sole power vetoing U.N. resolutions criticizing Israel on 42 different occasions.  You must tell him that Israel should not take our protection for granted.  You must tell him that we will take Israel's refusal to stop its settlement construction into account the next time we are asked to expend political capital by being Israel's sole defender in the United Nations Security Council. 

We ARE in the driver's seat.  It is long past time to drive.

Update: 9/2/14: I wrote that "We have asked Israel many times in the past not to build more settlements, and almost every time they have raised their middle finger to us and said 'screw you'".  Note I said "almost" every time.  This time is one of the exceptions to the rule.  Netanyahu just announced that he has canceled plans to build a settlement at Gvaot because of international pressure.  I suspect that this is only a temporary cancelation.  Netanyahu is sure to come under criticism from his right, and Daniel Seidemann tweeted that the settlers are already threatening to make some noise over this decision.


I would not be surprised if we see a price tag attack against Palestinians because of this.