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Fecteau: Obama Made the Right Call on the Israeli Settlements

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


The American Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, abstained from vetoing a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the disputed area of Palestine and Israel. While short of a ‘yes,’ it allows the international community to justly censure Israel for settlements that are a liability to global peace.  

Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, all presidential administrations have censured the Israeli settlements in one form or another. American presidents have always viewed the construction of the settlements as unnecessarily provocative, and at times unlawful under international law. In 1979, the State Department issued a scathing legal opinion noting the settlements were, in fact, illegitimate.  

This legal view changed with the election of President Ronald Reagan. Because of the Arab world’s flirtation with socialism, the Reagan administration grew closer to Israel, seeing it as a bulwark against the Soviet Union’s influence. Reagan deemed the settlements as “ill-advised,” but not illegal. Regardless of legalities, all American presidential administrations attempted to freeze or disband the settlements.  

In the past, the global community struggled to condemn the Israeli settlements. However, each time, the United States exercised its veto power, making international disapprobation difficult. 

This time was different. After generations of impasses at the United Nations, the Obama administration refused to veto a resolution that specifically condemns the settlements. This action (or should I say, inaction?) is aligned with American foreign policy efforts, and goals throughout the region.  

These settlements make a durable two-state solution less likely, putting our national-security interests at risk in the process. Each settlement built outside the 1967 demarcation lines, creates further complicity when negotiating a peace deal in the future.  

In the void of a solution, American interests are vulnerable. No cause has rallied more terrorists around the world than the lack of peace between Israel and Palestine. This is propaganda our enemies use for recruitment; something that makes cooperation with other Arab countries more difficult as well.  

It should go without saying, but the United States provides Israel enormous support. In fact, the Obama administration has already given Israel the largest military aid package ever. Furthermore, the Obama administration invested heavily in the Iron Dome (strategic shield) that protects Israel from rocket attacks – Obama doesn’t take Israeli security lightly.  

However, while America has a close relationship with Israel, every relationship has differences. A sustainable peace deal based on a two-state solution is in America’s interests. The settlement construction, and expansion places that in dire jeopardy. When the Obama administration chose to abstain, he was putting American interests first, and Israel on notice: these settlements need to end.   

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq war veteran.


Related Slideshow: Reaction to President Obama’s Worcester Visit

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Rick Rushton

Worcester City Councilor

“This is an awesome experience for our young ones. Whenever I mentioned the POTUS visit this week the young children have reacted with unbelievable enthusiasm. The President recognizing the achievement of our students gives all young children a positive message that your good work will be recognized.”

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Dianna Biancheria

Worcester School Committee

“I think that it is fabulous; it is wonderful for the students. I think that we are very fortunate that he chose Worcester. I would like to say that when you look at what Worcester Technical has to offer, I attribute much of the success to proper discussions and funding.”

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Joesph Petty

Worcester Mayor

"Having our city and these students recognized by the President is an absolute honor. Worcester is a hub of innovation and talent, where our City's brightest grow and develop into thriving citizens, committed to civic engagement in our region. A visit from the President is evidence that the hard work of our city and these students is being noticed on a national scale"

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Brian O'Connell

Worcester School Committee

“The speech was very upbeat, pleasant and a great moral boost for Worcester and the school system.”

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Tim Murray

President and CEO, Worcester Chamber of Commerce

“Let's use excitement & energy of Pres. Obama's visit to focus on expanding voke/ed opportunites in MA. #mapoli”

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John Monfredo

Worcester School Committee

“I think it is great for the city and a terrific honor for the Worcester public schools. There haven’t been many times that he has come to a high school, let alone to give a commencement speech. Whether a supporter of him or not, I think as a city we should still be proud and honored.”


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