The Financial Express

Israel's overwhelming influence on US

Mohammad Amjad Hossain | Published: April 05, 2019 20:17:53

Israel's overwhelming influence on US

There is no denying the fact that the State of Israel is the only country in the periphery of the Middle East having democratically elected government since its inception in 1948 but record of violation of human rights, freedom of speech and international law has no parallel indeed. Repeatedly violation of international law has caused anti-Israel resolutions in the United Nations but because of veto power exercised by the United States of America, Israel in fact saved its face. Ironically, birth of the state of Israel was indebted to the resolution adopted by General Assembly of United Nations. Resolution of 181 on November 29, 1947 after the expiry of British mandate given by League of Nations at the end of the First World War spelled out the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with city of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum to be governed by a special International regime.

Since occupation of Palestinian lands in the 1967 war with countries in the Middle East the state of Israel has systematically been violating international law. In spite of repeated request by the President of the United States not to expand settlements of Jewish in occupied territories in violation of the fourth Geneva convention the government of Israel, time and again, gave a damn to the request. That Israel has been boycotted by the international community reflected in a landmark resolution on December 22, 2016 in the Security Council of the United Nations demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in occupied territories after United States decided to abstain from participating in any meaningful peace process. Possibly this was the first time the United States remained absent from exercising its veto power.  President Walker Bush was another President of the United States who refused to release money to Israel unless Israel vacate Jewish resettlement in Palestinian territories in the West Bank. That decision had caused defeat in the second term in the presidential election of George Walker Bush.

Being encouraged by incumbent US President Donald Trump the government of Israel under the premiership of hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put Palestinians under its steam roller in occupied territories. Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 which includes the old city, is considered illegal by the international community and no country recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital until May of 2018 when President Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel and shifted its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This decision was criticised by Palestinians as well as the UN General Assembly. Annexation of East Jerusalem in fact is the violation of international law which has been designated by UN as an international city in 1947.

No resolution has been made to make two separate states as Arab and Jewish states in occupied Palestine lands following a series of negotiations after Oslo treaty. During ruling of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who is second longest serving Prime Minister of Israel, no talks between Israel and Palestinians have seen any fruitful conclusion. Moreover, expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank continues unabated.  Gaza Strip, on other hand, has become a war field as a result of throwing rockets by the militant group Hamas into Israeli territories. Neither Al-Aqsa mosque, which is located in old city of Jerusalem, is safe to offer prayer. It may be recalled that Israeli military police on July 29, 2018 closed Al-Aqsa mosque's gate after firing tear gas and stun grenades at worshippers who gathered for Friday prayer which caused injuries to 15 Palestinians, including three guards of the mosque while arresting 20 Palestinians.

A similar situation was confronted by three American citizens on a visit to Al-Aqsa mosque on March 12 last as part of a trip to Jerusalem. At a press conference on March 18 at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic center at Falls Church of Virginia where this writer offers Friday prayer as well, Safa Hawash, a staff member of Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic centre along with public and government affairs Director Saif Rahman spoke to the reporters as experienced by Safa and her family. They experienced the tensions between local Muslims and the Israeli government when Israeli security forces assaulted the three American women during an unanticipated shutdown of the mosque.

Nour and Safa, daughters of an Egyptian father and Palestinian mother, were born in the United States and went to Jerusalem as tourists and as first-time visitors they were naturally excited to visit Al-Aqsa mosque that occupies a compound known as Al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and the temple Mount to Jews. Along with Al-Aqsa it contains the Dome of Rock from where Prophet Muhammad (SM) ascended to heaven.

They heard gunfire and saw Israeli soldiers chasing people around the compound. Israeli soldiers in fact proceeded to physically remove worshippers from the mosque and held Nour and pushed her to the ground in spite of showing her American passport and handcuffed her as well while other soldiers formed a barricade that prevented other people from helping her. Her mother Germen Abdel Karim tried to grab her daughter but could not. At the press conference Safa said this was only a fragment of what Palestinian people have to endure on a daily basis fighting for the basic right of existence. This horrendous event only scratched the surface of the reality, Safa added. Saif Rahman said in the light of what has been happening in the world, "we feel that any form of supremacy needs to be addressed and injustice to anyone needs to be dealt with".

Israeli leadership has further been emboldened following announcement by President Donald Trump that Golan Heights of Syria occupied by Israel during 1967 war would remain part of Israel. President Trump signed an order on March 25 officially recognising Israel's control of Golan Heights in defiance of international law. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamín Netanyahu who was present during the signing ceremony at the White House compared President Donald Trump with that of Cyrus, the Great Persian King, Lord Balfour of the United Kingdom, President Harry Truman, but ironically, 14 out of 15 members of the Security Council of the United Nations and all 28 members of European Union did not recognise Golan Heights as part of Israel.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has tremendous influence on most of the lawmakers in the United States. In its annual meeting on March 26 this year Vice-President Mike Pence, Democratic House of Representative Steny Hoyer and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer spoke indirectly against the newly-elected house of representative Ilhan Omar, who spoke on February 27 about the political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country  which incidentally construed as anti-Semitic by both Republican and Democrat lawmakers alike. As a result, the House of Representatives passed a resolution on March 6 to condemn anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry in an effort to tamp down the uproar over comments of House representative Ilhan Omar. Similarly, Professor Marc Lamont Hill, who teaches at Temple University, lost job as contributor to CNN after his speech at UN event commemorating the International Day of Solidarity on November 29, 2018 with Palestine people. UN religiously observes solidarity day with Palestinian people on November 29 to mark the anniversary of Resolution 181. Professor Marc Lamont Hill was criticised for his call for a free Palestine from the river to the sea which was interpreted as calling for the end of Israel.

It is high time for United Nations to resolve to create two states in occupied Palestinian lands for the sake of stopping killing innocent Palestinians and ensuring peace in the region.

Mohammad Amjad Hossai, is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh


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