Citing ‘national security,’ coalition of realists and liberals (Freeman-Zogby-Beinart) call on Obama to condemn settlements

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This is big. This is the new coalition to push the neocon Project for the New American Century into the dustbin of history. Fifty public figures, including commentators and former officials, have called on Obama to stand with the majority in the U.N. Security Council against the Israeli settlement project in Israel as a matter of U.S. national security. Among the signatories, Amjad Atallah, Chas Freeman, James Zogby, Andrew Sullivan, Peter Beinart. Many realists, Nitze, Wilkerson. Paul Pillar, Bill Quandt, Mike Desch, Carla Hills former trade rep Note the absence of Israel lobbyists. I.e., they can’t even condemn the settlement project. Jeffrey Goldberg was surely asked. Or they don’t like references to American lives on the line in the Middle East. Notice how few Jews are on the list, and what pressure people like Beinart and Rabbi Beerman of L.A. are exposing themselves to within the monolithic American Jewish leadership. Excerpts:

The time has come for a clear signal from the United States to the parties and to the broader international community that the United States can and will approach the conflict with the objectivity, consistency and respect for international law required if it is to play a constructive role in the conflict’s resolution…

As you made clear, Mr. President, in your landmark Cairo speech of June 2009, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

There are today over half a million Israelis living beyond the 1967 line – greatly complicating the realization of a two-state solution. That number has grown dramatically in the years since the peace process was launched: in 1993 there were 111,000 settlers in the West Bank alone; in 2010 that number surpassed 300,000.

The settlements are clearly illegal according to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva convention – a status recognized in an opinion issued by the State Department’s legal advisor on April 28, 1978, a position which has never since been revised.

That official US legal opinion describes the settlements as being “inconsistent with international law”. US policy across nine administrations has been to oppose the settlements, with the focus for the last two decades being on the incompatibility of settlement construction with efforts to advance peace. The Quartet Roadmap, for instance, issued during the Bush presidency in 2003, called on Israel to “freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth.”…

At this critical juncture, how the US chooses to cast its vote on a settlements resolution will have a defining effect on our standing as a broker in Middle East peace. But the impact of this vote will be felt well beyond the arena of Israeli-Palestinian deal-making – our seriousness as a guarantor of international law and international legitimacy is at stake.

America’s credibility in a crucial region of the world is on the line – a region in which hundreds of thousands of our troops are deployed and where we face the greatest threats and challenges to our security. This vote is an American national security interest vote par excellence. We urge you to do the right thing.

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