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Daoud Kuttab

Clinton's not-so-Democratic Party when it comes to Israel

One of Clinton’s biggest donors is Israeli American, Haim Saban.

Date of publication: 30 June, 2016

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Comment: Hillary Clinton's position on Israel-Palestine has seen a dramatic shift over the last two decades, reflecting the course of her political ambition, writes Daoud Kuttab
As first Lady, Hillary Clinton had the political courage to support Palestinian statehood and even have her picture taken as she kissed Suha Arafat on the cheek at the Christmas lights ceremony in Bethlehem.
As a diplomat in her own right, Secretary Clinton often repeated the Obama Administration's opposition to occupation and to the continued Israeli building of settlements.
But as the presumptive nominee for the US Democratic Party, Clinton's loyal delegates are refusing to recognise "reality" as Professor Cornel West, the Bernie Sanders delegate to the drafting committee, so forcefully articulated.
Recognising that Palestine is under occupation is not such a big deal. Every single country in the world, and even half of Israel have already done so. The UN and all its bodies, from the Security Council to the General Assembly and everything in between, say that Palestinian territories captured in an Israeli initiated war in 1967 are occupied territories.

The International Criminal Court deliberating on the Israeli-built wall deep in Palestinian territory, said that the areas are occupied and that the Geneva IV conventions of 1949 apply to these territories.
In the same verdict, the International Court of Justice also declared Israeli policy of confiscating Palestinian lands and bringing Jewish Israelis to live on the colonial settlements, to be "illegal" under international humanitarian law.
Why are these terms important?
As is often the case, the first step to cure is recognising there is a problem and that help is needed. Israel doesn't recognise that 2.8 million Palestinians living under its military rule is a problem. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he is willing to have those areas under occupation "indefinitely" and that if need be, Israel will live by the sword forever.
Permanently subjugating another people by the sword might have been justified in biblical times but in today's 21st century it should be unacceptable.
The difference between Clinton as First Lady or Secretary of State, and Clinton as the presidential nominee, can be summarised in one word: Money
Professor West of Princeton University, and Arab American leader James Zogby were among the 13 people who discussed and eventually voted on the Democratic Party's foreign policy platform. West talked about 500 Palestinian babies having been killed in the last Israeli war on Gaza, while Zogby told of being held for seven hours at Israel's Tel Aviv airport - even though he was part of US Vice President Al Gore's delegation - simply because his father was born in Lebanon.
The Democratic platform will be reviewed in Florida and again at the convention in Philadelphia but the refusal to recognise a historic and current fact is mind boggling.
If Palestinian's lands are not occupied, then what are they? Israel says these are disputed territories, though the term has no legal existence in international law. In Israeli eyes, it was God Almighty who gave this land to the Jewish people 2000 years ago.
Shortly after the war in 1967 the United Nations Security Council met and voted unanimously on resolution 242 which states in its preamble that it is "inadmissible to acquire land by war". The resolution calls on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
Once the Democratic Party accepts what has been recognised by the rest of the world for the last half a century, it must then automatically recognise that Israel as an occupying power is forbidden from bringing its citizens to live in these occupied areas.

The Fourth Geneva Convention approved following the occupation of France is designed to thwart attempts by occupiers to turn these occupied areas into war booty that they can simply loot and build on at their will.
US party convention platforms might not carry much weight when it comes to how a country acts in the international community. But once a Clinton is in the White House, she can pursue almost any foreign policy that she and her administration desire. Short of war and peace and the purse strings, Congress has little to do with foreign policy.
One of Clinton's biggest donors is an Israeli American Haim Saban who unashamedly calls himself a one issue political contributor
Hillary Clinton's delegates must recognise the reality that Palestinian women, children and the aged, as well as Israeli soldiers witness on a daily basis. If they fail to do so, the attempts of the world's superpower to lead a process towards ending this occupation and the colonial settlements it has ushered in, will be that much harder.
The difference between Clinton as First Lady or Secretary of State, and Clinton as the presidential nominee, can be summarised in one word: Money. One of Clinton's biggest donors is an Israeli American Haim Saban who unashamedly calls himself a one issue political contributor.
Much has been said about the destructive power of lobbyists and billionaire contributors. Hillary Clinton's marked regression over the last twenty years is perhaps the best indicator of how badly political money has affected those who are ambitious to become the leaders of the free world.


Daoud Kuttab is an award winning Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Follow him on @daoudkuttab

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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