A new statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demonstrates a real imperial mentality (I really don’t like using bombastic rhetoric, but it really is imperial). Regarding Israeli settlements in Jerusalem he said,
Now I want to remind you that building (settlements) in Jerusalem is with accordance to Israeli law. If anyone wants to investigate further, they can go to the Bush letter and see all those settlements blocks and the changes in the territory which the U.S. president spoke of.” (my italics)
Lieberman is stating that settlements in Jerusalem are legal because they are in accordance with Israeli law and official US policy of the Bush administration. This makes it quite clear that the Israeli government does not care what anyone thinks outside of Israel and the US. It was demonstrated quite clearly in the recent UN vote upgrading the status of Palestine a non-member state.
Lieberman is referring to a 2004 letter from Bush II to then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon stating:
In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
Just to point out the obvious, just because the president of the United States (or any country) says final borders must reflect the reality of Israeli settlements does not raise it to the level of international law. Especially when the vast majority of the world has declared that the settlements are not permissible in the General Assembly Resolution “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine,” which is approved yearly, and most recently in November of 2011. The most recent version states that the UN reaffirms “the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.” This document was adopted by a vote of 167 to 7. The 7 no votes were the US, Israel, Canada, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru. There were 4 abstentions: Austrailia, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Tonga.
Furthermore, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Jerusalem on November 21, 2011, stating its
determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever and calls upon Israel to immideately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.
The vote on this one was 164 to the same 7, with 5 abstentions. Perhaps the US and Israel would should remember the phrase from the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence emphasizing the importance of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”