Blogs: Paul Pillar

John Kerry Nails It: Realities of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Trump Goes All In With the Settlers

Paul Pillar

Anyone with a concern for Israel’s security and well-being should be aware that the continued colonization of the West Bank through expansion of settlements does not correlate positively with such security and well-being.  To the contrary, it detracts from Israeli security.  It involves an added burden on the Israel Defense Forces, and it is the most visible part of an occupation that is by far the biggest stimulus and support for those intending to do Israel harm.

Anyone concerned with U.S. interests should be aware that the United States has no positive interest in the settlements or in the religious or local economic motivations that have stimulated their growth.  For the United States, it is all negative, in terms of instability, prospects for violence, the stimulation of extremism, and the United States being resented and targeted because of its role in permitting the settlement enterprise.     

The combined pressure from Netanyahu and Trump got al-Sisi to withdraw the resolution.  It is appropriate for Egypt to play a leadership role in trying to improve the conditions for negotiation of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, for historical reasons dating back to the Camp David Accords of 1978.  The peace treaty with Egypt that Israel sought was only one-half of the bargain struck at Camp David.  The other half was supposed to be progress toward a peace covering the Palestinian territories.  Anwar Sadat has been revolving in his grave over how, nearly four decades later, what process there has been has failed to yield an end to the occupation.

The case for the current resolution remains strong.  Four other members of the Security Council—New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela—pressed ahead with the resolution even when a bullied Egypt backed off.  The Obama administration deserves commendation for allowing the resolution to pass when it finally came to a vote on Friday.  A positive vote in support would have been even better, rather than the United States once again being in a lonely position on UN measures involving Israel.  In this case the United States was the only one of the fifteen Security Council members that did not vote in favor of the resolution.  The Republican members of Congress who now are denouncing the administration even for abstaining should be made to point to words in the resolution itself and explain exactly what they allege is wrong with it.  Otherwise they are just blindly following the lead of an Israeli government that will perpetuate the occupation, and the negative consequences that flow from it, forever.

Trump did not have to interfere with the incumbent administration’s diplomacy.  It would give him more options to let the incumbents take the domestic political heat for breaking the pattern of repeated occupation-covering U.S. vetoes at the Security Council.  Even if Trump is determined to stay in bed with the settlers and the Israeli right-wing, he could still assume such a posture starting on January 20th, however mistaken such a posture is.

Perhaps Trump’s abandonment of his “neutral guy” moment is another instance of his gravitating to wherever he hears the loudest applause, with that applause coming in this instance from the lobby that would scream the loudest if he were to move in a different direction.  Perhaps it is an instance of his being swayed by whoever in his inner circle has most had Trump’s ear recently and been motivated to use that access to press special interests.  That inner circle member can be the lawyer who helped him through bankruptcies in Atlantic City.  Or it could be Trump's son-in-law, whom Trump has talked about as a Middle East envoy, who, like the lawyer, has personal ties to West Bank settlements, and who reportedly wrote, along with Stephen Bannon, the statement denouncing the resolution.  Either way, this is a poor way to make U.S. foreign policy.              

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Educating Trump with Intelligence: Questions are as Important as Answers

Paul Pillar

Anyone with a concern for Israel’s security and well-being should be aware that the continued colonization of the West Bank through expansion of settlements does not correlate positively with such security and well-being.  To the contrary, it detracts from Israeli security.  It involves an added burden on the Israel Defense Forces, and it is the most visible part of an occupation that is by far the biggest stimulus and support for those intending to do Israel harm.

Anyone concerned with U.S. interests should be aware that the United States has no positive interest in the settlements or in the religious or local economic motivations that have stimulated their growth.  For the United States, it is all negative, in terms of instability, prospects for violence, the stimulation of extremism, and the United States being resented and targeted because of its role in permitting the settlement enterprise.     

The combined pressure from Netanyahu and Trump got al-Sisi to withdraw the resolution.  It is appropriate for Egypt to play a leadership role in trying to improve the conditions for negotiation of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, for historical reasons dating back to the Camp David Accords of 1978.  The peace treaty with Egypt that Israel sought was only one-half of the bargain struck at Camp David.  The other half was supposed to be progress toward a peace covering the Palestinian territories.  Anwar Sadat has been revolving in his grave over how, nearly four decades later, what process there has been has failed to yield an end to the occupation.

The case for the current resolution remains strong.  Four other members of the Security Council—New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela—pressed ahead with the resolution even when a bullied Egypt backed off.  The Obama administration deserves commendation for allowing the resolution to pass when it finally came to a vote on Friday.  A positive vote in support would have been even better, rather than the United States once again being in a lonely position on UN measures involving Israel.  In this case the United States was the only one of the fifteen Security Council members that did not vote in favor of the resolution.  The Republican members of Congress who now are denouncing the administration even for abstaining should be made to point to words in the resolution itself and explain exactly what they allege is wrong with it.  Otherwise they are just blindly following the lead of an Israeli government that will perpetuate the occupation, and the negative consequences that flow from it, forever.

Trump did not have to interfere with the incumbent administration’s diplomacy.  It would give him more options to let the incumbents take the domestic political heat for breaking the pattern of repeated occupation-covering U.S. vetoes at the Security Council.  Even if Trump is determined to stay in bed with the settlers and the Israeli right-wing, he could still assume such a posture starting on January 20th, however mistaken such a posture is.

Perhaps Trump’s abandonment of his “neutral guy” moment is another instance of his gravitating to wherever he hears the loudest applause, with that applause coming in this instance from the lobby that would scream the loudest if he were to move in a different direction.  Perhaps it is an instance of his being swayed by whoever in his inner circle has most had Trump’s ear recently and been motivated to use that access to press special interests.  That inner circle member can be the lawyer who helped him through bankruptcies in Atlantic City.  Or it could be Trump's son-in-law, whom Trump has talked about as a Middle East envoy, who, like the lawyer, has personal ties to West Bank settlements, and who reportedly wrote, along with Stephen Bannon, the statement denouncing the resolution.  Either way, this is a poor way to make U.S. foreign policy.              

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Heartstrings and Aleppo

Paul Pillar

Anyone with a concern for Israel’s security and well-being should be aware that the continued colonization of the West Bank through expansion of settlements does not correlate positively with such security and well-being.  To the contrary, it detracts from Israeli security.  It involves an added burden on the Israel Defense Forces, and it is the most visible part of an occupation that is by far the biggest stimulus and support for those intending to do Israel harm.

Anyone concerned with U.S. interests should be aware that the United States has no positive interest in the settlements or in the religious or local economic motivations that have stimulated their growth.  For the United States, it is all negative, in terms of instability, prospects for violence, the stimulation of extremism, and the United States being resented and targeted because of its role in permitting the settlement enterprise.     

The combined pressure from Netanyahu and Trump got al-Sisi to withdraw the resolution.  It is appropriate for Egypt to play a leadership role in trying to improve the conditions for negotiation of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, for historical reasons dating back to the Camp David Accords of 1978.  The peace treaty with Egypt that Israel sought was only one-half of the bargain struck at Camp David.  The other half was supposed to be progress toward a peace covering the Palestinian territories.  Anwar Sadat has been revolving in his grave over how, nearly four decades later, what process there has been has failed to yield an end to the occupation.

The case for the current resolution remains strong.  Four other members of the Security Council—New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela—pressed ahead with the resolution even when a bullied Egypt backed off.  The Obama administration deserves commendation for allowing the resolution to pass when it finally came to a vote on Friday.  A positive vote in support would have been even better, rather than the United States once again being in a lonely position on UN measures involving Israel.  In this case the United States was the only one of the fifteen Security Council members that did not vote in favor of the resolution.  The Republican members of Congress who now are denouncing the administration even for abstaining should be made to point to words in the resolution itself and explain exactly what they allege is wrong with it.  Otherwise they are just blindly following the lead of an Israeli government that will perpetuate the occupation, and the negative consequences that flow from it, forever.

Trump did not have to interfere with the incumbent administration’s diplomacy.  It would give him more options to let the incumbents take the domestic political heat for breaking the pattern of repeated occupation-covering U.S. vetoes at the Security Council.  Even if Trump is determined to stay in bed with the settlers and the Israeli right-wing, he could still assume such a posture starting on January 20th, however mistaken such a posture is.

Perhaps Trump’s abandonment of his “neutral guy” moment is another instance of his gravitating to wherever he hears the loudest applause, with that applause coming in this instance from the lobby that would scream the loudest if he were to move in a different direction.  Perhaps it is an instance of his being swayed by whoever in his inner circle has most had Trump’s ear recently and been motivated to use that access to press special interests.  That inner circle member can be the lawyer who helped him through bankruptcies in Atlantic City.  Or it could be Trump's son-in-law, whom Trump has talked about as a Middle East envoy, who, like the lawyer, has personal ties to West Bank settlements, and who reportedly wrote, along with Stephen Bannon, the statement denouncing the resolution.  Either way, this is a poor way to make U.S. foreign policy.              

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Partisan Tribalism and Attitudes Toward Russia

Paul Pillar

Anyone with a concern for Israel’s security and well-being should be aware that the continued colonization of the West Bank through expansion of settlements does not correlate positively with such security and well-being.  To the contrary, it detracts from Israeli security.  It involves an added burden on the Israel Defense Forces, and it is the most visible part of an occupation that is by far the biggest stimulus and support for those intending to do Israel harm.

Anyone concerned with U.S. interests should be aware that the United States has no positive interest in the settlements or in the religious or local economic motivations that have stimulated their growth.  For the United States, it is all negative, in terms of instability, prospects for violence, the stimulation of extremism, and the United States being resented and targeted because of its role in permitting the settlement enterprise.     

The combined pressure from Netanyahu and Trump got al-Sisi to withdraw the resolution.  It is appropriate for Egypt to play a leadership role in trying to improve the conditions for negotiation of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, for historical reasons dating back to the Camp David Accords of 1978.  The peace treaty with Egypt that Israel sought was only one-half of the bargain struck at Camp David.  The other half was supposed to be progress toward a peace covering the Palestinian territories.  Anwar Sadat has been revolving in his grave over how, nearly four decades later, what process there has been has failed to yield an end to the occupation.

The case for the current resolution remains strong.  Four other members of the Security Council—New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela—pressed ahead with the resolution even when a bullied Egypt backed off.  The Obama administration deserves commendation for allowing the resolution to pass when it finally came to a vote on Friday.  A positive vote in support would have been even better, rather than the United States once again being in a lonely position on UN measures involving Israel.  In this case the United States was the only one of the fifteen Security Council members that did not vote in favor of the resolution.  The Republican members of Congress who now are denouncing the administration even for abstaining should be made to point to words in the resolution itself and explain exactly what they allege is wrong with it.  Otherwise they are just blindly following the lead of an Israeli government that will perpetuate the occupation, and the negative consequences that flow from it, forever.

Trump did not have to interfere with the incumbent administration’s diplomacy.  It would give him more options to let the incumbents take the domestic political heat for breaking the pattern of repeated occupation-covering U.S. vetoes at the Security Council.  Even if Trump is determined to stay in bed with the settlers and the Israeli right-wing, he could still assume such a posture starting on January 20th, however mistaken such a posture is.

Perhaps Trump’s abandonment of his “neutral guy” moment is another instance of his gravitating to wherever he hears the loudest applause, with that applause coming in this instance from the lobby that would scream the loudest if he were to move in a different direction.  Perhaps it is an instance of his being swayed by whoever in his inner circle has most had Trump’s ear recently and been motivated to use that access to press special interests.  That inner circle member can be the lawyer who helped him through bankruptcies in Atlantic City.  Or it could be Trump's son-in-law, whom Trump has talked about as a Middle East envoy, who, like the lawyer, has personal ties to West Bank settlements, and who reportedly wrote, along with Stephen Bannon, the statement denouncing the resolution.  Either way, this is a poor way to make U.S. foreign policy.              

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