US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced on 18 November that his country no longer recognises Israeli West Bank settlements as being in breach of international law. And while the move may benefit Trump domestically, ultimately, it harms the beleaguered Palestinian people.
The Israeli state’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory that’s been occupied since the 1967 Six Day War, involves increasing encroachments upon land where Indigenous communities live. And it’s recognised that this program directly breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Despite international condemnation, the Netanyahu regime last year passed the controversial Nation-State Law, which actively promotes further expansion of these settlements. And this legislation also legitimised Israel’s apartheid system, officially recognising Palestinians as second-class citizens.
And this isn’t the first time that Trump’s taken aim at the Palestinians, whilst reinforcing the US relationship with Israel. After he officially recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US embassy was moved there on 14 May last year, as Israeli forces shot dead 58 unarmed Palestinian protesters.
Disregarding international frameworks
“The reality is that the settlements have all but destroyed any hope of a two state solution,” said Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president Bishop George Browning. “And for Trump to legitimise them is for the US to commit to the end of this possibility.”
“Ultimately, two peoples of similar population size have to live peaceably together,” he further explained. “Every time a statement is made, or action taken that results in exulting one side and diminishing the other, leaves prospects for long term peace and harmony a distant dream.”
Bishop Browning told Sydney Criminal Lawyers that “Trump is largely playing to his own electorate”, which contains a sizable amount of conservative evangelicals. And he stressed the need for nations to act in accordance with established rules, which Trump merely tramples upon.
Right now, the three million Palestinians living in the West Bank are forced to stand by as their agricultural lands are stolen to make way for new Israeli settlements. And their movements are aggressively restricted with hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks throughout the region.
In a 15 December 2018 address at the Sydney Institute, Trump’s down under deputy Scott Morrison criticised the Israeli program of land appropriation, as undermining peace and contributing to stalemate. But, this should be taken with a whole packet of salt.
The reigning Australian PM had preceded these comments by patting our nation on the back for opposing “six resolutions that attacked Israel in the UN General Assembly” the month prior, at his own direction.
“In the past, we had abstained on these resolutions,” Morrison continued. “Not anymore and not on my watch.” However, this is just more fluff from a deeply religious prime minister, who seems to care little for oppressed populations.
Indeed, Australia has been a great ally to Israel since the Liberal Nationals government came to power in 2013. And renowned political commentator Noam Chomsky has suggested that this is a case of one settler colonial state supporting another.
Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.