Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

U.S. Policy on Israel and Palestine Update

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch held a briefing on Wednesday. The transcript is available from the State Department. (That page also has a link to a Real Audio file of the briefing.) Interesting discussion of the Separation Wall and Israeli Settlement Activities:
QUESTION: Hoda Tawfik, Al-Ahram newspaper.

Mr. Secretary, in spite of all the commitments we keep speaking about for both sides in the roadmap and also Sharm el-Sheikh, we see that the separation wall now will be built, or in the near decision of getting built around Ma'ale Adumim and which separates -- will separate and extends 25 kilometers on the Palestinians' land. And also we see that some of the settlers are moving to settlement in the West Bank.

So exactly what the United States role now in helping both sides to fulfill the commitments? What are you going to do? What are you doing now?

AMBASSADOR WELCH: Well, we would like to facilitate people meeting their obligations, but let me go one step beyond that. For people to meet obligations, they have to want to do so. There has to be real not just intention but seriousness of purpose in doing things on the ground. And let's be clear, these obligations are reciprocal. One party should not be discounted because of the visibility of the other party's actions. To rebuild confidence, it's going to take steps from both sides.

With respect to the fence, or the wall, as you've called it, we don't have any issue with Israel's right to defend itself and therefore the existence of a fence or a wall, per se. It's the course of the wall that would cause us concern, in some cases, in the areas you mentioned. These matters are being discussed and debated as we speak in Israel and I don't know what their final decisions would be. We would have to see.

Again, as I said in response to an earlier question, the same thing pertains as with respect to settlement activity. We have a concern with respect to unilateral steps that might prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations or complicate efforts to get there. And you can be sure that the Israeli Government is aware of those views. And I believe that because they're friends of the United States, they would take them into account. But we'll see what they do.
With all due respect to Secretary Welch, notice how he deflects culpability for Israeli actions? The U.S. is more than just a friend of Israel - we provide Israel with at least $3 billion in aid (including $1.8 billion in military aid) a year, which is a third of the U.S. foreign aid budget.* If the US government wanted to stop Israel from doing something, I certainly believe threatening to revoke some of our foreign aid would immediately change the actions of the Israeli government.

*Source of aid figures: "The Cost of Israel to US Taxpayers: True Lies About U.S. Aid to Israel," by Richard H. Curtiss of the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs


Post a Comment

<< Home