Settling the Settlement Debate

In response to Sun-Times article:
“Obama handed Abbas excuse to foil progress”

sun timesSteve Huntley’s July 14th article entitled “Obama handed Abbas excuse to foil progress” is biased and promotes misconceptions of Obama’s foreign policy and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Huntley suggests that holding Obama accountable to his promises is somehow a selfish show of intransigence and an attempt to destroy possibilities for peace. Obama promised to push forward the two state solution, and a prerequisite to this is the end of all settlement activity.

In his June 4, 2009 Cairo speech, Obama stated, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…It is time for these settlements to stop.” This stance is not a new one, it has been the same stance taken by every U.S. president since LBJ (LBJ was the president in office when settlements began after Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967).

The Israeli settlements are illegal under the fourth Geneva Convention and are the reason the Oslo accords failed. Despite this, Israeli settlers control more than 40% of the West Bank, as cited by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights NGO.

Contrary to Huntley’s misguided assertions, the Palestinians have opposed the occupation and settlements since their inception. Huntley’s assertions are exactly those prejudiced views that derail efforts for peace and understanding. The public needs to hear the facts as they exist on the ground so that there is no justification for the violation of human rights and the flouting of international law.