- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Israel’s Lawyers at Work

Americans For Peace Now’s Lara Friedman gets to the nub [1]of the two states for Israelis and Palestinians issue, taking some measurements on the fast-closing window for a viable peace deal.

The truth is, the two-state solution — in terms of facts on the ground — is still alive, but it is neither immortal nor infinitely malleable. This is not merely a subjective statement. A clear lesson of decades of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts is that three concrete conditions must exist for the two-state solution to be possible. First, it must be possible to delineate a border based on the 1967 lines that leaves two politically and economically viable, maximally contiguous states. Second, this border must allow for a politically and economically viable Israeli capital in Israeli Jerusalem and a politically and economically viable Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Third, it must be possible to compensate for changes in the 1967 lines through land swaps carried out on a one-to-one ratio.

Of course there are Americans, such as Dennis Ross and Elliott Abrams, who apparently believe the Palestinians can be forced to accept something less than a contiguous viable state. Ross recently published [2] a piece calling for Israel to freeze new settlements east of its separation barrier, ignoring the fact the wall cuts in substantially on Palestinian land and water resources. Friedman rightly notes that the Ross proposal would “[gut] the very concept of the two state solution.” It would eliminate the concept that the ’67 borders were the basis for compromise, and cut the Palestinians off from access to Jerusalem. It flouts the speeches on the issue made by every past American president (including Obama, whom Ross was supposedly working for until recently) and the long-standing and deeply rooted consensus of the international community. For the Palestinians the proposal for a sort of balkanized, non-contiguous bantustan state is a non-starter; even if a Palestinian leader could be bullied into accepting it, it would have no legitimacy, or staying power.

This land question will lurk behind every statement made during President Obama’s forthcoming trip to Israel: will the president seek to lay a foundation for a return to meaningful negotiations, or will he conclude simply that US has no real influence over what Israel does and quietly resign himself to a long and wrenching process of American disengagement from what will be soon be viewed a simply an apartheid state? Obama could never phrase it that way, but it’s hard to imagine him thinking otherwise.

Of course, not everyone in America will want to disengage from an apartheid Israel. Congress, many of whose members hew closely to the wishes of their AIPAC minders, is seeking ways to bind the United States more closely to Israel, regardless of the Palestinian issue.

In its weekly legislative round-up, Americans for Peace Now parses some of the bills  written to AIPAC specifications in time for the AIPAC lobbying effort last week. I have noted previously the “backdoor to war” resolution, [3] designed to ensure automatic support for an Israeli strike on Iran.

But also of interest is what APN calls the “Best Ally with Benefits” [4] resolutions, defining  Israel as a “major strategic partner” of the United States. (Remember all the help Israel provided during the two Iraq wars. You don’t? What’s the matter with you?) These bills extend Israeli access to US weapons and provide funding for various forms of military assistance. One grants Israel a very particular kind of access into the Visa Waiver program. In the Senate version,  the Secretary of State is called to certify that “Israel has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that recipocal travel privileges are extended to all US citizens.” This wording is in fact designed to circumvent the key provision of more typical Visa waiver programs, which require that countries grant reciprocal privileges to citizens and nationals of the United States. Israel doesn’t want to do that, because it wants to be able to deny visas to American citizens of Palestinian descent and to US citizens it deems sympathetic to the Palestinians. One of the chief protections of Palestinians on the West Bank is the international presence, people who are able to act as witnesses to record the various brutalities of the occupation, as well as provide education and technical assistance. But Israel doesn’t want this “wrong kind of American” to see what it’s doing. There have been recent stories about Israel denying visas to American citizens: recently a woman who taught at the Quaker school in Ramallah was denied [5] a re-entry visa. The Senate bill which AIPAC seeks is one which gives Israelis the right to enter the United States virtually automatically, without visas, while giving Israel the right to deny reciprocal rights to Americans.  Should be interesting to see if a single Senator decides to engage in public discussion of this.


Comments Disabled (Open | Close)

Comments Disabled To "Israel’s Lawyers at Work"

#1 Comment By KenI On March 11, 2013 @ 9:00 am

“Should be interesting to see if a single Senator decides to engage in public discussion of this.” Exactly.

#2 Comment By Pro Dip On March 11, 2013 @ 9:25 am

“will the president seek to lay a foundation for a return to meaningful negotiations, or will he […] quietly resign himself to a long and wrenching process of American disengagement from what will be soon be viewed a simply an apartheid state?”

US engagement hasn’t brought peace. By the evidence our engagement has only hindered it. We must resist the temptation to act either as either party’s lawyer or as any sort of broker between them, and under no circumstances provide aid or guarantees.

We have tried for decades. It doesn’t work. The fantastic quantity of money, weapons, good will and sheer human effort we have poured down the Israel/Palestine rat-hole has only bred more rats, and caused us horrific, ongoing problems.

#3 Comment By Satori On March 11, 2013 @ 9:34 am

Of course AIPAC wants to whisk Israelis into the United States on preferred visas. It is widely believed to be in the business of facilitating Israeli military and industrial espionage against the United States.

Speaking of which, is AIPAC entirely out of the woods on the “AIPAC Spies” case yet? I seem to remember that two of its top officers were arrested not too long ago by the FBI on charges of spying for Israel.

#4 Comment By Rehmat On March 11, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

Don’t forget, Dr. Lasha Darkmoon, is totally convinced that United States is Israeli colony.


#5 Comment By Aaron Gross On March 11, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

To Friedman’s three necessary conditions, I’ll add a fourth: The moon must be in the seventh house, and Jupiter must be aligned with Mars. Clearly, until these four concrete conditions are met, a two-state solution will be impossible.

Besides, we’ve been hearing literally for decades that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing and we have very little time left. Surely by now the window must be closed and rusted shut. But why don’t we hear that from Peace Now: “Sorry, too late, guys, you missed it”? All we hear is the same pitch we’ve been hearing for decades: There’s still time for peace, but you better hurry up because this is a limited-time offer only!

#6 Comment By James Canning On March 11, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

Yes, Lara Friedman in fact “gets to the nub” of what it will take to resolve Israel/Palestine problem.

#7 Comment By James Canning On March 11, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

Pro Dip – – The idiotic Iraq War was a much larger “rathole” into which the wealth etc of the American people was poured. To protect Israel.

#8 Comment By Aaron On March 11, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

You ask whether the president will “seek to lay a foundation for a return to meaningful negotiations, or will he conclude simply that US has no real influence over what Israel does….”

If a lesson can be drawn from President Obama’s first term, it would be that he is not going to invest his time and reputation in trying to bring the two sides together for talks that will inevitably fail.

The U.S. can assert influence over Israel, if it chooses – not forcing an outcome, but creating economic pressures that urge policy changes. Consider, for example, George H.W. Bush’s policy on loan guarantees to try to limit the expansion of settlements. If the U.S. were united in its approach to the conflict, it could place considerable pressure on Israel to move toward whatever the desired consensus outcome happened to be. But acting alone, a President can be embarrassed by either of the parties he is trying to help, and hamstrung by Congress.

#9 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On March 11, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

“The Senate bill which AIPAC seeks is one which gives Israelis the right to enter the United States virtually automatically, without visas,…….” This would be handy for Israeli organized crime enterprises in the US as well.

#10 Comment By Dr. Why On March 11, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

Yeah, Complete And Unwavering Support For Israel was getting pretty tired. Some people thought it was all one word.

But the new Precognitive And Retroactive Support For Israel policy is exciting, almost like we traveled backward in time !!! … maybe even to the same space-time continuum in which Israel fought shoulder to shoulder with us in Afghanistan and Iraq …

#11 Comment By James Canning On March 11, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

Was Dennis Ross floating a trial balloon, hoping to encourage Palestinian leaders to let Israel force a bad deal onto the Palestinians in the West Bank?

#12 Comment By MoJoe On March 11, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

AIPAC and militant zionists tried to crucify Hagel, just for saying that he was an American Senator and not an Israeli one! Americans, wake up!

#13 Comment By TomB On March 11, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

Well at least given AIPAC’s lobbying for a measure making it harder for Americans to get into Israel sort of settles once and for all the argument that it would never sacrifice Americans’ interests for Israel’s.

But, anyway, McConnell’s talk here about whether Obama will just stand silent or try to launch yet another “peace” try misapprehends the situation I think.

It doesn’t *matter*, that is, what his views are or what the views of his successors are: At some point in time when the current situation becomes untenable for it—the boycott movement, the int’l exasperation, another intifada, wide-enough recognition of its apartheid nature—Israel itself will once more get the U.S. to launch yet another two-state “peace” initiative.

Such new initiatives have after all proven their distraction value many times in the past, yet another will only provide Israel the opportunity to maneuver more to “prove” that the Palestinians don’t want “peace” as well as give it more time to gobble more land and etc.

What U.S. Presidents want or think vis a vis Israel has become almost entirely irrelevant.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 11, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

There’s plenty of information i had no idea about —

A bit perplexing — disconcerting.

#15 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 11, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

Allies with benefits,

if history is any indicator, Israel is rather short on the benefits end.

#16 Comment By Myron Hudson On March 11, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

TomB, I think you’re on to something there.

#17 Comment By Basil McDonnell On March 13, 2013 @ 2:18 am

I think it’s worth reminding everyone that Israel is not now and never has been an ally of the United States. There is no treaty of alliance between the two countries, largely because Israel will not state where it’s borders actually are. It’s hard to promise to defend a country that won’t say where it is.

Israel is not an ally, not a strategic asset, and not a liability either.

Israel is a strategic objective of the United States.

America has other foreign policy objectives, such as keeping sea lanes open, or preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, or keeping Americans safe overseas.

But no other country commands the position of strategic objective that Israel does. Perhaps at one time the survival of Britain was considered a strategic objective of the United States in a similar way. But the survival of France (evidently) was not. And neither was the survival of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Yugoslavia, Albania, or Greece.

Today, American foreign policy has one core objective, and that is the survival and prosperity of the state of Israel. For many American officials and citizens who are citizens of both countries, I don’t think it’s too much to venture that the point of the United States itself is to ensure the survival of the state of Israel. Certainly this is the point of the existence of the American military.

What is America for? It’s to make Israel possible.

So let’s not have this talk about Israel as an Ally. It’s nothing of the sort.

#18 Comment By IRmep On March 13, 2013 @ 7:36 am

It will be necessary to keep a close eye on the Israeli embassy and consulates, AIPAC and other parastatal lobbying organizations over the next few months.

Back in the mid-1980s none were above espionage and theft of government property to get similarly one-sided benefits from the US: duty free entry of Israeli products into U.S. markets.

Declassified files on the affair here:


#19 Comment By Robert Anderson On March 13, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

Conservatives have been afraid of US loss of sovereignty to the UN, but in fact it has been lost to Israel.

#20 Comment By Eileen K. On March 13, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

Until Israel gives up its hubris and recognizes a Palestinian state with the same rights, there will never be a solution to this problem that’s been festering for over six decades.

The Palestinians’ demand for a return to the 1967 borders is a sensible one, one that would make a two-state solution a reality; but, as usual, Israel (under the psycho PM Benjamin Netanyahu) refuses to even consider this solution; thus, proving to the entire world that it does not want peace, ever. This is tragic, since the world has been seeking peace for numerous generations.