US policy and the Israel-Palestine conflict


The US has been giving Israel about $3 billion in direct aid - military and economic - every year for the past 25 years, plus another 2 billion in indirect aid, for a total of over $100 billion since 1949! The US also provides Israel with "loan guarantees" - $9 billion this year. In practice, these loans are generally forgiven, so these are de facto grants as well.

Most of this aid violates US laws. The Arms Export Control Act stipulates that US-supplied weapons be used only for "legitimate self-defense." The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act prohibits military assistance to any country "which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." The Proxmire amendment bans military assistance to any government that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to allow inspection of its nuclear facilities, which Israel refuses to do.

Human rights violations by Israel are well documented. Since 1967, Israel maintains an illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Furthermore, Israel systematically violates the fourth Geneva Convention's rules concerning the obligations of an occupying power. Its policy of roadblocks, curfews, and now a wall euphemistically called a "security fence", has resulted in a division of Palestinian territory into small parcels - one could say bantustans. Palestinians' freedom of movement is drastically restricted, as are their opportunities for work, education and medical attention. Illegal Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories, along with their network of connecting roads which are off limits to Palestinians, contribute to this process. Palestinian water is diverted for the benefit of Israel and the settlements. Palestinian land continues to be confiscated. The occupation is further punctuated by military incursions into the territories, targeted assassinations, and house demolitions. If Israelis live in fear of terrorism, Palestinians live under a regime of state terror.

The Israeli government behaves as if it has no notion of the rule of law. Recently, Israel's vice prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said "[Palestinian Authority Chairman] Arafat can no longer be a factor…. The question is: How are we going to do it? Expulsion is certainly one of the options, and killing is also one of the options." Although Israeli sources later denied that the killing of Arafat was official policy, it is clear that Arafat, the Palestinian elected President, remains a rallying point for Palestinian hopes. He has shown a willingness to compromise, but not to back down on the minimum needs of the people he represents. He is also a crucial link between the Palestinians and the outside world. Sharon's strategy has been to weaken Arafat, demonize him (blaming him for every attack) and finally to prepare Israeli and world opinion for his elimination - to be carried out, possibly disguised as an "accident", when the moment is ripe. Sharon is not stupid; he knows that the result will be a bloodbath. And this is just the pretext he needs to realize his old dream of creating "greater" Israel by establish total Israeli control over the conquered territories - except perhaps for a small bantustan for the "Arabs" who refuse, or haven't the means, to leave. (A look at a map of the planned Wall is instructive.)

On September 16, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution demanding that Israel halt threats to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Aspiring Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean recently ran into sharp criticism from fellow Democrats for proposing that the US take a more “even-handed role” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Republican leader Tom DeLay recently told the Knesset, "Israel's fight is our fight. And so shall it be until the last terrorist on Earth is in a cell or a cemetery."

Although some Israelis realize that Israeli policies of repression and colonization only encourage terrorism, neither the Republican administration nor the Democratic opposition in the US seem able to cope with this obvious fact.