The fact that Palestinians are currently seeking U.N. membership has set off Tea Party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). Convinced that “American Jews aren’t as Pro-Israel as they should be,” Walsh is taking it upon himself to “protect” Israel and will introduce a new measure “expressing congressional support for Israel’s right to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.” The U.S. considers the settlements to be “illegitimate.”
Walsh modeled his bill after one by the Israeli Knesset’s right-wing member Danny Danon. Danon’s bill seeks to annex “Area C” — a part of the West Bank containing all the Israeli settlements and a sizable Palestinian population where Israel exerts direct military control. The U.N. criticized Israel this month for a “restrictive planning regime in Area C” that “makes it virtually impossible” for Palestinians to build and exacerbates displacement. Danon is leading a campaign to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to unilaterally annex “Area C.”
After speaking with Danon, Walsh decided the House must make a strong statement against the “outrageous” Palestinian proposal and express unadulterated support for “Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria” — the name for the West Bank used by Israel’s ideological settler movement:
“We’ve got what I consider to be a potential slap in the face coming up with the vote in the U.N., which is absolutely outrageous,” Walsh told POLITICO. “It’s clear that the United States needs to make a very strong statement. I would argue that the president should make this statement, but he’s not capable of making it. So, the House needs to make this statement, if the [Palestinian Authority] continues down this road of trying to get recognition of statehood, the U.S. will not stand for it. And we will respect Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria.”
Recognizing Israel’s annexation of “Area C” in the West Bank would not only place Congress in support of an action considered by nearly every government and inter-governmental body on earth to be illegal, it would also likely deliver another crippling blow to any remaining hope for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In addition to proposing Congress contravene international law and long-standing U.S. policy, Walsh is wrong that Obama isn’t capable of making a “very strong statement.” Despite its allies’ stances, the Obama administration stood alone in its veto of a U.N. Security Council draft resolution — based on U.S. policies — that would have declared settlements illegal. The Obama administration has also been pressuring the Palestinians to drop their current U.N. bid for recognition and, yesterday, a top U.S. official pledged a U.S. veto if the matter comes before the Security Council.
Walsh’s inspiration — Danon — is an opponent of the two-state solution: He thinks it was a “mistake” for Israel to not annex the entire West Bank in 1967. It’s difficult not to see Walsh’s move in a similar vein. As analyst and writer Tony Karon posited in Time, unflinching U.S. support helps allow Israel to isolate itself from a clear international consensus on the creation of a Palestinian state. With a looming U.N. veto, a resolution that would effectively pave the way for Israel to codify the end of a two-state solution would only deepen this isolation — for both Israel and the U.S.