Washington dismantling the international order
Legitimising Israeli colonies is latest of international conventions cast aside by Trump.
The Trump Administration’s declaration that Israeli colonies in occupied Palestinian lands are not illegal was, in fact, a consequential act — though not for the reasons cited by Israelis or Palestinians. It was also “the nail in the coffin” — though not the “coffin of the peace process”— as some Palestinians have claimed.
The decision was not so consequential with regards to colonies because for the last three and one-half decades, successive American administrations’ policies toward Israeli colonies have moved from passive acquiescence to outright acceptance. It was Ronald Reagan who first said that he didn’t believe colonies were illegal. And it was George W. Bush who tried to make the distinction between “existing realities” and new colonies. The former, he claimed, had already been built and could remain, while the latter were to be discouraged.
The Israelis took advantage of this loophole and continued to build, knowing that US presidents might complain but wouldn’t do anything to stop them. The net result has been that the colony population in the occupied territories has grown from 50,000 during the Carter administration to 620,000 Israeli colonists even before Trump took office.
Against this background, it’s fair to say that the Trump announcement on Israeli colonies didn’t reflect any dramatic shift in US policy. It’s also fatuous to suggest that will it have any effect on the “peace process.” It doesn’t end it, kill it, set it back, or slow it down — precisely because there is no peace process, nor has there been one for several years. In reality, pretending that there is such a process has been an illusion projected by the US to control Palestinian behaviour and to keep Europeans and Arabs at bay so as to maintain exclusive US control over the “process” and to protect the Israelis from any international sanctions or pressure.
The real significance of the Trump Administration’s announcement is something quite different — it demonstrates a flagrant disregard for international law and conventions, the role of the international community, and universal human rights.
We’ve already seen this attitude on display with Trump’s withdrawal from several international agreements negotiated by previous administrations (regarding trade, climate, and arms control), the threats the administration has made to punish other nations who voted against the US at the UN, and the contempt it’s demonstrated toward the International Criminal Court and several UN agencies.