Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Leverage US Military Aid to Halt Illegal Israeli
By Yousef Munayer
ccun.org, April 21, 2009
The author submitted this article for publication at ccun.org on April 19,
2009 but it was also published in the same day by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, which sits deep inside the
Palestinian Territory of the West Bank, voted overwhelmingly for Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party in the recent
elections. The reasons are straightforward: Likud has vowed to protect and
expand settlements, and its platform denies the existence of a Palestinian
state in the West Bank and Gaza.
These facts run contrary to
stated U.S. policy toward the peace process, but the new government of
Israel and the residents of Ariel and other illegal Israeli settlements
who voted for Likud do not seem to care.
administration since Jimmy Carter's has taken a position against
settlements in the West Bank. They are not only illegal under
international law, but they also jeopardize Israel's long-term security,
stability, and prospects for peace with its neighbors.
Israeli settlements and the security structures that surround them
debilitate the livelihoods of Palestinians, cut them off from each other,
and make a viable Palestinian state unachievable. From 1994 to 2004, after
the start of the Oslo peace process, which was based on the principle of
two states, the settler population grew a striking 89 percent.
a recent trip to the region, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
criticized settlement construction and the demolition of Palestinian homes
in Jerusalem. Yet expansion plans continue to be developed by the Israeli
Clearly, words have yet to alter the course
of Israeli policies, and if the past is prologue, a Netanyahu-led
government will not be helpful in ending construction. In fact, the last
time Netanyahu was prime minister, settlement construction increased to
its highest levels in 20 years.
When it comes to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we are running out of time to save a
two-state solution. Waiting for "pro-peace" governments to be elected on
both sides is like waiting for the planets to align. With the right wing
on the rise in Israel and a fragmented Palestinian polity, the ideal
configuration seems light-years away. Israel is on a crash course with an
irreversible entanglement in Palestinian territory.
It's time for
a new approach that will make it clear to the Israeli government that
there must be a permanent freeze on settlement construction and expansion.
In 2007, the United States and Israel signed a memorandum of
understanding guaranteeing Israel $30 billion in military assistance over
the next decade. This assistance, however, has never been conditioned or
leveraged to ensure compliance with U.S. policy on settlements.
conditioning assistance on compliance with a complete and permanent freeze
on settlement construction, the United States can send a clear message to
This message could also help Netanyahu. Since the domestic
constituency that put him into power is sympathetic to settlement
expansion, limitations on U.S. assistance can give Netanyahu the ability
to argue that his hands are tied and that a settlement freeze is
If we are shipping our tax dollars overseas in these
tough economic times, the least we should do is make sure they are being
used to further U.S. objectives. If the United States truly is a friend to
Israel, it should show some tough love, and conditioning aid is the right
way to start.
Yousef Munayyer is a policy analyst with the
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington
ADC National Convention