Trump's Deposit in the West Bank
November 19, 2019
The Israeli people didn't vote for Donald Trump, but there isn't a nation around that's benefited more from his administration than our Middle East ally. In just three years, he's managed to keep more promises on Israel than all of the previous presidents combined. He moved the embassy, recognized their sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and according to Secretary Mike Pompeo, he's nowhere close to done.
In an announcement that has apparently "been in the works for months," the State Department has decided to overturn a 41-year view that the Israeli settlements on the West Bank are "illegal." "We agree with President Reagan," Secretary Pompeo explained. "Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace."
Caroline Glick, a columnist at Israel Hayom, agreed. Late Monday night, she joined "Washington Watch" from the Holy Land and explained what this change will mean. "In many ways," she said, "it's actually more significant than moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights." Why? "Because the Jerusalem Embassy Act was law since 1996--and every presidential administration since then had to justify not moving the embassy. But that was official American policy. As for the Golan Heights, that was very significant. Don't get me wrong... But it wasn't really being disputed by the United States in recent years. On the other hand, the legal status of Israeli communities [in] the West Bank has really been the core of the defamation campaign against Israel since the Carter administration since the 1970s. And it's the leading reason or justification that the E.U. and the U.N. and others use to discriminate against Israel and Israeli Jews in the name of the rule of law or international law, even though there's no basis in international law for the claim that Israeli communities in these areas are illegal."
As far as she's concerned, the fact that President Trump has made this move suggests that he understands the situation in the Middle East better than most. "[He's said], 'I want American policy in the Middle East and throughout the world to be based on the world as it is -- not on some sort of imaginary world in the heads of so-called self-appointed foreign policy experts. And the idea of basing American policy towards the Palestinians and towards Israel on a lie that says that Israeli communities built outside of the 1949 armistice lines -- in the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria are illegal -- is not going to advance the cause of any peace treaty. You can't base peace, real peace on a lie. And that is the lie."
The new Trump policy also helps undermine the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. If you're unfamiliar, the BDS movement is a lot like what took place in Nazi Germany leading up to WWII. In 1933, the German government launched Judenboykott, a boycott of Jewish stores and shops designed to not only to hurt the Jewish community economically but to stigmatize and delegitimize the Jewish people. The BDS movement has the same effect -- only it's an international effort targeting the state of Israel.
For years, the BDS movement has been done in the name of the Palestinians, attempting to force Israel to give up their land in the eastern portion of the country, Judea, and Samaria. They use the settlements, Caroline explained, "like a gateway drug for boycotting Israel and denying that Israel has a right to exist -- because there's really no distinction in the eyes of the BDS people between the so-called settlements that were built on lands outside of the 1949."
Back during the Barack Obama's administration, the U.S. forced Israel to stop building in the West Bank -- and that created a serious crisis for a lot of people. "Just on a practical level," Caroline pointed out, "housing prices in Israel have gone much faster than the cost of living index. And so, you know, young couples who are starting out have a very difficult time buying houses... [So] this also has direct implications for the Israeli economy."
It also has direct implications for President Trump's legacy. As Christians, we applaud the administration for being a great friend to the Jewish people -- and keeping yet another promise that shows: America stands with Israel.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.