The headline of a New York Times editorial this week reads: “Wrong Time for New Settlements”. It’s about how
An Israeli government-appointed commission on Monday issued a report asserting that Israel’s 45-year presence in the West Bank is not occupation. The commission endorsed the state’s legal right to settle there and recommended that the state approve scores of new Israeli settlements.
The editors offer the following:
Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
But notice the “Most of the world” part. This implies that some of the world agrees with this Israeli commission that the West Bank is not occupied Palestinian territory. It implies that the West Bank is somehow disputed territory. This is totally false. This “Most of the world” business is the standard euphemism employed by the Times to mean every nation on planet Earth except for Israel itself. There is not a single country that rejects the international consensus that every inch of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is, in the words of the International Court of Justice, “occupied Palestinian territory”, and that Israel’s colonization is hence in violation of international law.
So having misled readers into believing that it was anything other than totally uncontroversial that the West Bank is occupied territory, the editors come to the reasons why now is not the right time for Israel to build settlements, they state:
If its [the commission’s] conclusions are not firmly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is likely to be new international anger at Israel. That could divert attention from Iran just when the world is bearing down with sanctions and negotiations to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. It would also draw attention to a dispiriting anomaly: that a state founded as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people is determined to continue ruling 2.5 million Palestinians under an unequal system of laws and rights.
So following from the logical implication of the editorial’s title, if it didn’t result in “international anger at Israel”, didn’t “divert attention from Iran”, and didn’t “draw attention” to the “dispiriting anomaly” (read “hypocrisy”), then Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank would be perfectly fine. References to international law are provided for context, but nowhere is it suggested that settlements shouldn’t be constructed because they are illegal, merely because it results in “international anger at Israel”. Nowhere do the editors show even the slightest consideration in exercising their opinion for the rights of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are just totally irrelevant.
Think about that.