UPDATE: On Thursday (25 March) Aluf Benn wrote in Haaretz that “Netanyahu almost believed the crisis had passed, that he had survived by offering partial, noncommittal answers to the Americans’ questions. Shortly before meeting with Obama, Netanyahu even warned the Palestinians that should they continue to demand a freeze on construction, he would postpone peace talks by a year … But then calamity struck. At their White House meeting, Obama made clear to his guest that the letter Netanyahu had sent was insufficient and returned it for further corrections. Instead of a reception as a guest of honor, Netanyahu was treated as a problem child”… This Haaretz article can be read in full here.
YNet (with Reuters input) reported on Wednesday, after a two-part Obama-Netanyahu meeting, that “The feeling in the White House is that Netanyahu did not deliver on his promises, and that the meeting between the two leaders concluded with a deafening silence and a tense atmosphere”. This report is published here.
Netanyahu’s remarks on Jerusalem in a speech to AIPAC (the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee) — and the almost-simultaneous announcement back in Jerusalem of further movement in approving Jewish housing in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem — had a severe impact on the Israeli government leader’s visit to the U.S.
We don’t know, yet, what Obama told Netanyahu in private. But we do know what the U.S. position on Jerusalem used to be…
A comment [written by bob on March 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm] on a post on Mondoweiss here, reminded me of material I put as a footnote to my last article for Salim Tamari’s Jerusalem Quarterly, here [this article was, contrary to its labelling, not a book review!]
In fact, this comment is identical to what I put in my story ….
Because some of my material had to be shortened in the editing process, I’ll reproduce more of what I wanted to publish in that article — this is all about previous U.S. positions on Jerusalem (1967 + 1969).
1.) U.S. Ambassador to the UN in July 1967, Arthur J, Goldberg:
On 14 July 1967, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg [Representing Lyndon Johnson] stated in explanation of his abstention in a vote that day on a resolution concerning the Israeli extension of its administration to Jerusalem that “this Assembly should have dealt with the problem by declaring itself against any unilateral change in the status of Jerusalem”.
Goldberg added that “During my own statement to the General Assembly on July 3, I said that the safeguarding of the Holy Places and freedom of access to them for all should be internationally guaranteed and the status of Jerusalem in relation to them should be decided not unilaterally but in consultation with all concerned. These statements represent the considered and continuing policy of the United States … My Government does not recognize that the administrative measures taken by the Government of Israel on 28 June can be regarded as the last word on the matter, and we regret that they were taken. We insist that the measures taken cannot be considered other than interim and provisional, and no prejudging the final and permanent status of Jerusalem. Unfortunately and regrettably, the statements of the Government of Israel on this matter have thus far, in our view, not adequately dealt with this situation”.
Goldberg also said that “the goal of the United States in the Middle East … is a durable peace and enduring settlement. We conceive of this goal as requiring throughout the area far more than a return to the temporary and fragile truce which erupted into tragic conflict on June 5. We are convinced, both by logic and the unforgettable experience of a tragic history, that there can be progress toward the durable peace in the entire area only if certain essential steps are taken. One immediate, obvious and imperative step is the disengagement of all forces and the withdrawal of Israeli forces to their own territory. A second and equally immediate, obvious and imperative step is the termination of any claims to a state of war or belligerency on the part of Arab states n the region”.
2.) U.S. Ambassador to the UN in July 1969, Charles Yost:
On 1 July 1969, [Richard Nixon’s Ambassador] Charles Yost told the UN Security Council that “Jerusalem occupies a very special place in all our minds and all our hearts as one of the holiest cities in the entire world. For Jerusalem is a sacred shrine to three of the world’s largest and oldest religious faiths: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. By virtue of that fact, the United States has always considered that Jerusalem enjoys a unique international standing and that no action should be taken there without full regard to Jerusalem’s special history and special place in the world community … The expropriation or confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance, and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interests in the city. The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the June war, like other areas occupied by Israel, is occupied territory and hence subject to the provisions of international law governing the rights and obligations of an occupying power. Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interest, and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property. The pattern of behavior authorized under the Geneva Convention and international law is clear: the occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by immediate needs of the occupation. I regret to say that the actions of Israel in the occupied portion of Jerusalem present a different picture, one which gives rise to understandable concerns that the eventual disposition of East Jerusalem may be prejudiced and the rights and activities of the population are already being affected and altered. My Government regrets and deplores this pattern of activity, and it has so informed the Government of Israel on numerous occasions since June 1967. We have consistently refused to recognize these measures as having anything but a provisional character and do not accept them as affecting the ultimate status of Jerusalem … A just and lasting peace in the Middle East is long and tragically overdue. It will not be found in terror bombings … any more than through unilateral attempts to alter the status of Jerusalem. It will be found only through the instruments and processes of negotiation, accommodation and agreement. It will come only through the exercise by the parties of the utmost restraint – not just along the cease-fire lines or in public statements, but also on the ground in Jerusalem itself … Our consideration of the situation in Jerusalem could provide a fitting occasion on which to insist once more that the parties to a dispute which keeps the world’s Holiest City in turmoil act responsibly to resolve the whole dispute and, until it is resolved, that they take no action anywhere which could further jeopardize its resolution”.YNetBy Aluf Benn
Netanyahu almost believed the crisis had passed, that he had survived by offering partial, noncommittal answers to the Americans’ questions. Shortly before meeting with Obama, Netanyahu even warned the Palestinians that should they continue to demand a freeze on construction, he would postpone peace talks by a year … But then calamity struck. At their White House meeting, Obama made clear to his guest that the letter Netanyahu had sent was insufficient and returned it for further corrections. Instead of a reception as a guest of honor, Netanyahu was treated as a problem child, an army private ordered to do laps around the base for slipping up at roll call.