Vice President Mike Pence tells Israel’s Knesset, “the U.S. will support a two-state solution”

Remarks | Foreign Policy

Issued on: January 22, 2018

The Knesset – Israel’s parliament
Jerusalem, Israel *

“And President Trump reaffirmed that, if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution.”

Arabs rejected the two-state proposal in 1948-49 when the Arab Legion invaded Palestine just before the British Mandate ended. Then, the Kingdom of Jordan annexed the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem, and the walled Old City of Jerusalem.

The “two-state solution” became the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. Everything since then has been bluster by Arabs before they drive all Jews into the sea.

Driving Jews into the sea – the Mediterranean – may be literal. On the other hand, it seems to hearken back to the days of Salah ad-Din  (Saladin) who drove Crusaders “into the sea” – back to Europe. This subtlety seems to be lost on literal-minded Arabs who don’t want to see Jews when they look out their windows.

Pence addresses Israel’s Knesset – video from The Washington Post

The White House’s text of Mr. Pence’s speech.


* Jerusalem – Israel’s capital since 1948


Land once earmarked for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

Area where the U.S. Embassy could have been built.

In theory, there is land in Jerusalem set aside for a new U.S. Embassy. On President Ronald Reagan’s last day in office in [January] 1989, then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel William Brown signed a contract for a patch of land in West[ern] Jerusalem for $1 a year on a 99-year lease. This space [7 to 14 acres in the Talpiot neighborhood] was later zoned for “diplomatic purposes” by the Israeli government with the intention of building a U.S. Embassy there.

Although it was initially hoped during the 1990s that a U.S. Embassy could sit there, after the al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, new safety standards were put in place that require embassies to be set back 100 feet from any adjacent roads due to the risk of car bombs and other attacks. “With the new rules, that land is not big enough,” Shapiro said. For context, the space in Talpiot is seven to 14 acres, according to different sources, while the new U.S. Embassy in Lebanon sits on 43 acres.

From The Washington Post
By Adam Taylor | December 7, 2017

From: Nesanel –

The location on the map (79 Hebron Rd.) is now already built up with apartment residence towers.

Note though, that this site lies entirely within pre-1967 Jerusalem. However, the new Consulate General lies in what was no man’s land. The U.S. has had a consulate general in Jerusalem since 1844.

See Wikipedia , “Consulate General of the United States, Jerusalem,” and “Jerusalem Embassy Act.”

Are the Jews of Today Really Descendants of Abraham? Should They Inherit the Land?

It doesn’t matter.
Being Jewish is being a member of G-d’s Covenant at Mount Sinai. Over the centuries, some women and men said, in effect, “Count me in,” and so they became members of the Covenant by observing its specifics and generalities.
(I posted this before – “Ashkenazi Jews and their long-ago European mothers.”)

The ‘Two State Solution’ Died in 1949

The idea of an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River died when the Arab Legion invaded the West Bank in 1948. The land westward from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean was supposed to be divided into two states. One would be a Jewish state and the other would be an Arab state for those who were living there.

War was out of the question. The United Nations’ plan included the directive that both states would engage in economic cooperation – actually an Economic Union.

This plan was the United Nations Partition Plan for when Britain left the region. The plan arguably had the status of international law. The Security Council’s resolution concerned Britain. It set forth how the region that was mandated to the British to administer would look like when the British left. Britain tried (arguably) to set up the partition and to establish the outcome.

However, the Arab Legion violated this international law when it attacked Israel. Then, the Kingdom of Jordan annexed the West Bank – a new violation of international law.

The international community had helped Israel and Jordan negotiate an armistice in 1949. Since both sides agreed, the cease fire had the force of international law also.

The next time that the parties reached an agreement – negotiated by outsiders – was in 1993 through 1995. This was the Oslo Accords. These accords, which were signed by representatives of the Palestinians and of Israel, is the last word of international law.

UN resolutions passed by its Security Council arguably do not have the force of law. The United Nations is fulfilling its obligation to promote peace and security. It’s not unusual for effective parties to disdain peace and security.

Another event bears discussing. The International Court of Justice – commonly referred to as the World Court – is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. However, it tries to resolve disputes wherein both parties agree to appear. It is out of the question for the Court to rule unilaterally.

To repeat. The Oslo Accords are the only agreement, the only law between Palestinians and Israel.

Palestinians cannot justifiably complain that they are living in cantons. Their representative signed off on this.

They have a right and obligation to regulate life in what are called Areas A and B. Only Israel has the right to regulate life and to develop new housing, industry, and parks in Area C.

If Palestinians wished to pick up where things stood in the middle 2000s everything could go back onto the negotiating table.

However, this is so unlikely that I can relax, heat up some water, and relax drinking hot tea with sugar. The ‘Two State Solution’ is dead.

Professor Lorenzo Kamel addresses President Donald Trump’s declaration to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Lorenzo Kamel

Università di Bologna, Department
of History and Cultures
, Faculty Member

Lorenzo Kamel teaches History of Colonial and Post-Colonial Spaces at the University of Bologna’s Dept. of History and Cultures. He is also …

In a non-academic article for Al Jazeera , “Trump and Jerusalem: a legal and historical appraisal,” undated, Professor Kamel writes:

“US President Donald Trump has said it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel….”

I already addressed this announcement by President Trump – “The United States Will Not Be Moving Its Embassy to Jerusalem.”  I used primary sources, so as a blog entry it stands as an academic piece albeit without citations.

One can see U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s Press Statement from December 6, 2017.

However, I mistakenly took Kemal’s article as an academic piece. He published it by uploading it to This web site is called an Open-Access Journal for anyone who registers with an email address (which I have done). “Open access” contrasts with the peer-reviewed journals that have survived through subscriptions.

Some sites accept donations or are supported by nonprofit agencies. Some open-access publishers charge Article Processing Fees (APFs). APFs must be paid by the author(s) or by their funding agencies or universities.

Some open-access sites are more accurately characterized as publishers. Some have characterized as a social networking site for academics, but not a journal publisher at all. If reactions to published pieces are then measured and weighted, though, it might become possible to distinguish rigorous science and careful research. Such post-publication reviews separate academics from “opinionators” and “bloviators.” On the other hand, unfiltered reactions are the “wisdom of crowds” where some crowds are simply gangs and wise in the ways of creating mischief.

See in depth: “Open-Access Journal Underdogs Take On Aging Academic Publications,” from (13 June 2014).

Incentivizing Peer Review: The Last Obstacle for Open Access Science,” from (11 July 2014).

Lorenzo Kemal’s Entire Piece as Posted

In fairness to Professor Kemal, I encourage you view his article in a parallel window as I comment by right-clicking this link to open a new window, and then to minimize it to half the view port. Minimize my post into the other half of the view port.

Kemal’s thesis lies in his last paragraph. To paraphrase, U.S. President Donald Trump is imposing a unilateral understanding of the local reality without knowing much of its complex past and present.

I see nothing new here. It is a rare person who knows much of the complex past. In fact, most of the past is in dream time. The dream time for observers is only a view of their own dreams. Other observers are unaware of the specifics of my dream until I share it. Dream time is very real in the sense of how it impinges on present activities. For instance, conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland was rooted in a dream time of dead generations. Peace and reconciliation in recent times changed the space of the island.

I am especially amazed that Kemal’s dream time is suffused with images of Canaanites, a culturally extinct people. Perhaps, a Canaanite dream time narrative is preferred today de rigeur in the halls of Harvard (he was a Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow) and even in the Hebrew University (he attained an MA in Israeli Society and Politics).  However, where is the dream time of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)?

Dream Time

Dream time is very real in the sense of how it impinges on present opinions – le jour. Le jour is the place of journalists. Whether we think about a daily news cycle or a weekly one, time at a distance before these cycles is dream time. I rarely notice a journalist who has studied history from primary and secondary sources. Even more rare is the journalist who has a grasp of deep history. One who grasps deep history, studying from a panoply of sources, peels back dream time for the careful student.

Where does contemporary dream time begin? I suggest that a fait accompli is on the edge of where dream time morphs into le jour. I will not dispute different frames of le jour according to the availability of reliable sources.

One dream time leads up to the reunification of Jerusalem, the expansion of its municipal borders, and the de facto annexation when the laws of the State of Israel became the laws of the enlarged municipality of Jerusalem. Another dream time ends with the the Oslo Accord. A le jour for this second event is asking the questions “Why has Oslo failed?” or “How devastating has the Oslo process been for Palestinians and Israelis?” Most journalists are unable to write about these subjects as I explained above. Academics can compose cogent studies of the issues so long as they do not fall into the traps of rehashing partisan narratives, gossip, and innuendo.

A characteristic of dream time is that we cannot reenter it. We can propose counterfactuals, the more extreme ones as we reach farther back.

My own dream time

I visited Jerusalem on a summer program shortly after the Six Day War. I was not quite 16 years old and I neither understood nor spoke Hebrew. I have a distinct memory of reaching the construction where the Western Wall’s plaza stands today. Nonetheless, this event has a strong quality of dream time. I have lost contact with friends and acquaintances. In the summer of 1971, I began my junior year abroad at the Hebrew University. My transcript is evidence that these years are not dream time. At the same time, I mainstreamed into Hebrew-language geography courses. Since I still had no mastery of the Hebrew language, this time was virtually dream time, but my social life  was not. By the time I returned to the U.S. during the summer of 1973, I was speaking basic Hebrew but well-versed in the Hebrew of the Bible and of the Mishnah.

For our son (born in 1982) my life before he was a toddler and even onward was his dream time.

I returned to Israel during the summer of 2003, mostly visiting Jerusalem and going native. I was fluent in Hebrew, although I was unable to figure out how that came about. This month in Jerusalem is vivid in my mind. I still keep in touch with people who I had met. The visit has not receded into dream time.

I again returned to Israel during the summer of 2007 and lived in Jerusalem for a month. A vivid part of the trip was learning a few Arabic expressions – ma feesh mushkala. “No problem.” The visit has not receded into dream time either.

These pictures in my mind can be validated somewhat from primary sources (I still keep in touch with some people) and they comprise a sort of history, a biography.

President Donald Trump’s fantasies

I have no quarrel with Kemal’s assertion that “U.S. President Donald Trump … is imposing a unilateral understanding of the local reality without knowing much of its complex past and present.” Even more so, President Trump, I can safely say, knows virtually nothing (perhaps even less than nothing) about contemporary Jerusalem and the related Israeli and Palestinian issues. I write this sober assessment as a U.S. citizen and from a nonpartisan viewpoint.

Then consider ignorance of nuances of a divided Israeli polity and a divided Palestinian polity. I am referring to evidence from primary and secondary sources, not from the binary mindset of American culture.

Consider studying –

  • Ross, Dennis. 2004. The Missing Peace: the inside story of the fight for Middle East peace. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Ross was a chief Middle East peace negotiator in the presidential administrations of both George H. Bush and Bill Clinton – 1988 through 2001. Dennis Ross has also been a special advisor to President Obama and a senior director at the National Security Council for the Middle East.
  • Ross, Dennis. 2009. Myths, Illusions, and Peace : finding a new direction for America in the Middle East. New York: Viking.
  • Ross, Dennis. 2015. Doomed to Succeed:
    the U.S.-Israel relationship from Truman to Obama.
    New York:, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

I apologize for citing only one author from one part of the world.

Kemal quotes Oscar Wilde, “Truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Wilde’s conceit here is to speak of truth, a nebulous proposition. Does he refer to the truth of your or my dream time? Concerning history, Arnold J. Toynbee studies history; he authored A Study of History – just one person’s study.

(As it is, I am only somewhat familiar with the abridgment of his ten volumes.)

Kemal’s reportage

Most of Kemal’s reportage concerns dream time. In dream time we can pose counterfactuals and then proceed to a present that probably differs little from le jour.

If there had not been a Lord Arthur Balfour, another peer might have taken his place.

Whether Jerusalem’s inhabitants lived in mixed neighborhoods at the beginning of the 20th century is a factoid. What does it mean?

Jews preferred to use Islamic Sharia courts rather than their own rabbinical courts, writes American historian Amnon Cohen. Why? As excerpted by Kemal, this is a factoid without context.

Cohen is again quoted. “Jews of Ottoman Jerusalem enjoyed religious and administrative autonomy within an Islamic state, and as a constructive, dynamic element of the local economy and society they could – and actually did – contribute to its functioning.” How is this different from Moorish Spain until the invasion of Berber fanatics? Compare and contrast Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th century with Jewish life in Fatimid Egypt (the time of Maimonides). In both cases Jews enjoyed the same advantages.

During the above times, and perhaps at other times and places in the world of Islam, Jews enjoyed autonomy and citizenship – second class citizenship with disabilities but citizenship nonetheless. So long as Jews paid the head tax, the jizia, they enjoyed protection. Until the age of modernity, Jews were not citizens in Christian countries, although they did enjoy autonomy at times. One period was in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Cossack invasion of 1648.

These periods are not Jewish dream time. Primary and secondary sources support the framework of historical accounts.

The defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the Allies

But what has happened since World War I? The Ottoman Empire was defeated. The Sharif and Emir of the Hejaz (primarily Mecca and Medina), Hussein bin Ali, had agreed to open a front against the Ottomans by attacking the port city of Aqaba. As a reward, an Arab kingdom would be realized from Mecca northward into Damascus. However, in a secret agreement with Britain, France’s foreign office insisted that Damascus and Syria be within their sphere of interest. The League of Nations mandated Britain to supervise an entity called Palestine whose borders were drawn by colonial powers.

From about 1917 until 1924, Sharif bin Ali continued to rule the Hejaz. However, the ibn Saud clan conquered and annexed the Hejaz without a peep from the British. This led to the hegemony of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The British Foreign Office consoled Sharif Hussein bin Ali by elevating one of his sons,  Abdullah, to rule Transjordan — British mandated Palestine east of the Jordan River. The British exited Transjordan in 1946 and recognized the fully independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Its kings have been descendants of Abdullah.

British and French colonization of southwest Asia is not in dream time either. The rare journalist who has studied history and ethnography of the region may possibly mention  Lord Arthur Balfour, but this same journalist will fail to mention the flip-flopping British politician and diplomat Sir Mark Sykes who initially seems to have supported the Balfour Declaration. However, Sykes then negotiated a secret agreement with French diplomat François Georges-Picot that would marginalize Jews and Arabs in favor of British and French colonial enterprises. This became realized as both nation’s foreign policy.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement Map

Map of the Sykes–Picot Agreement showing areas of control and influence agreed between the British and the French. Royal Geographical Society, 1910-15. Signed by Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot, 8 May 1916 (lower right corner).

The French sphere of influence is marked A – today’s Syria and northern Kurdistan – and colored blue – today’s Lebanon, the ports in the northern Levant, and southeast Turkey.
The British sphere of influence is marked B – today’s Kingdom of Jordan, the Tikrit area of Iraq, and southern Kurdistan – and colored pink – today’s Iraq from Faluja, Baghdad, and Bakuba southward to the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait.
The yellow-brown area on the map is the Holy Land.
Britain would control the port of Haifa (red) and rail lines radiating out from Haifa, whether built or to be built.
The area below the red dashed line was supposed to be an autonomous Arabia.
Royal Geographical Society (Map), Mark Sykes & François Georges-Picot (Annotations) – This file is from the collections of The National Archives (United Kingdom), catalogued under document record MPK1/426. For high quality reproductions of any item from The National Archives collection please contact the image library. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required.

I won’t argue whether Lord Balfour had “limited knowledge of the local reality” of Palestine, as Kemal writes. I insist, though, in mentioning Sykes and Picot who also had “limited knowledge of the local reality” of people living and migrating in southwest Asia during the early 20th century. What they seem to have known very well was how to exploit the region to the benefit of France and Britain.

Juridical Aspects

The juridical aspects concerning the status of Jerusalem that Kemal mentions are colonial jurisprudence. Nation states serve nationalistic and colonial purposes more than they serve law and order within their jurisdictions.

The most infamous institutional juridical failure since World War II has been the United Nations. What the world trumpets as international law has come about from a vote of five (initially) colonial powers. Sometimes the colonial nature of the members of the U.N.’s Security Council are pushed out of sight. Instead, the five are called “world powers.”

The United Nations is one of a several international institutions with notorious “democratic deficits” (see Domingo, The New Global Law).

Still a work in progress.


U.S. Vice-President Pence: We will move our Embassy to Jerusalem next year

In a recent visit to Israel, Mr. Pence addressed Israel’s Knesset – its Parliament – in Jerusalem, the capital. He announced, “… just last month, President Donald Trump made history. He righted a 70-year wrong; he kept his word to the American people when he announced that the United States of America will finally acknowledge Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year.

“Our President made his decision, in his words, ‘in the best interests of the United States.’ But he also made it clear that we believe that his decision is in the best interests of peace. By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace.”

Video from The Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2018:

Pence: U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem to open in 2019, ahead of schedule

An accompanying slug from The Washington Post reads:

Speaking at Israel’s parliament on Jan. 22, Vice President Pence said plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv had been accelerated. The new embassy in Jerusalem will open in 2019.

January 22, 2018 | 4:23 AM EDT