Democratic congressman Steny Hoyer told reporters in a press conference held in Jerusalem that "Our country is committed to what the UN charter says - that people cannot take land or other countries by force."
The comment drew criticism from Lara Friedman, the founder of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, who tweeted "Just wow - you can't parody this stuff."
Jason Greenblatt, a former White House envoy to the Middle East, took to Twitter to answer Friedman: "I assume your comment is intended to imply that Israel took land (or a country) by force. Whose land (or country) are you suggesting Israel took by force? I’m not asking about fake, meaningless & politically motivated UN, international law” or “international consensus” statements, none of which actually mean anything with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’m asking for historical fact. Whose land or country? If you answer Palestinian or Palestine (which I assume you will), please explain the historical facts of how you get to this false conclusion. Good for Representative Steny Hoyer for speaking the truth."
Friedman dismissed Greenblatt's comments, tweeting "As we contemplate breakdown of post WWII order, former Trump official to makes explicit his view that int'l law is "fake, meaningless & politically motivated"...if applied to Israel. Law/rules for thee [ie, countries I don't like] but not for me [ie, Israel]."
Greenblatt tweeted back: "On the topics of "international law," international consensus," and UN resolutions with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, please watch this speech I made at the UN Security Council nearly 4 years ago. Nothing has changed. Specifically, listen to the part beginning at 3:50. Note that this language was carefully negotiated between me, at the White House, and the US State Department, and very carefully drafted. It reflects reality. It reflects the truth. It doesn't hide behind meaningless words and slogans." He attached a transcript of the speech:
"This conflict will not end on the basis of an international consensus about who is right and who is wrong. International consensus might work from time to time when you could actually achieve an international consensus. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, international consensus has not been achieved. Those who continue to call for international consensus are doing nothing to encourage the parties to sit down at the negotiating table and make the hard compromises necessary for peace. In fact, they are doing the opposite, allowing people to hide behind words that mean nothing. International consensus is too-often nothing more than a mask for inaction."
"Let us not forget the day when the United Nations could not even find a way to build an international consensus behind the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization that relentlessly attacks Israelis by incendiary balloons, missiles, attack tunnels, and other means, sometimes while hiding in residential neighborhoods filled with Palestinian families. Hamas, which ghoulishly holds Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul as bargaining chips. Hamas, which imprisons Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al Sayed. Hamas, a brutal terrorist organization that causes nothing but misery and suffering for Palestinians and Israelis, an organization that continues to vow to destroy Israel. This failure is profoundly shameful. If we cannot even find an international consensus regarding Hamas, is an international consensus really going to end this conflict? And how is it that we can’t find an international consensus that the Palestinian Authority rewarding terrorism and the murder of Israelis, using public funds, some donated by the countries in this very room, is abhorrent and must be stopped."
"International consensus is not international law, so let's stop kidding ourselves. If a so-called international consensus had been able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would have done so decades ago. It didn't. This conflict is also not going to be resolved by referencing international law when such law is inconclusive. We’ve all heard cogent arguments, claiming international law says one thing or another about this or that aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of those arguments are persuasive, at least to certain audiences, but none of them are conclusive. We will not get to the bottom of whose interpretation of international law is correct in this conflict. There is no judge, jury or court in the world that the parties involved have agreed to give jurisdiction in order to decide whose interpretations are correct. International law with respect to this conflict is a tricky subject that could be discussed and argued for years, without ever reaching a conclusion. So we can spend years and years arguing what the law is and whether it is enforceable and prolong the ongoing suffering, or we could acknowledge the futility of that approach."
"This conflict will also not be resolved by constantly referencing the hundreds of UN resolutions on the issue. The constant reference to these heavily negotiated, purposely ambiguously-worded resolutions is nothing more than a cloak to avoid substantive debate about the realities on the ground and the complexity of the conflict. The interpretation of one of the most often cited resolutions- Resolution 242 - has been hotly debated over the past half-century that debate has not brought us closer to lasting and comprehensive peace. That debate has not even bridged the gap between those who construe Resolution 242 to call for the so-called right of return and compensation for displaced Palestinians and the fact that the world covers its eyes to the fate of the roughly equal number of Jews who were expelled or forced to flee their homes in Arab countries in connection with Israel's War of Independence. Resolution 242 may have been drafted and voted upon in a genuine attempt to bring an end to the suffering that all involved in this conflict had endured, but we must acknowledge they have not succeeded."
"A comprehensive and lasting peace will not be created by fiat of international law, or by these heavily word-smithed, unclear resolutions. The same holds true for the status of Jerusalem. There is no international consensus about Jerusalem, and no international consensus or interpretation of international law will persuade the United States or Israel that a city in which Jews have lived and worshiped for nearly 3,000 years and has been the capital of the Jewish state for 70 years is not today and forever the capital of Israel."
"Jerusalem is a city of three world faiths. The rights of all who wish to worship at the holy sites in the city of Jerusalem must be protected. It is true that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority continue to assert that East Jerusalem must be a capital for the Palestinians. But let’s remember, an aspiration is not a right."
Friedman replied "Since we’re pulling things from the archives: Israel Made A Huge Mistake. Trump Is Terrible For The Jews." Citing an article in the Forward, she said "Almost from the moment of its creation, Israel has chafed under the restrictions placed on it by the rules-based order, most notably with respect to its military conduct in the region and beyond, and to its treatment of land occupied in the 1967 War and that land’s residents. With the breakdown of the peace process over the past decade, and the disappearance of any pretense that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians or intends to ever end the occupation, this chafing has reached a critical point."
"International law cannot accommodate Israel’s continuing project to change the facts on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem or the ongoing mass human rights violations the occupation entails; Israel’s annexation of territory acquired by military force in 1967 is fundamentally incompatible with the rules-based international order."
"This context is key to understanding why the majority of Israelis, and a smaller number of right-wing American Jews, apparently have come to believe that Israel would be better off in a world order that tears up the existing rules. For some, this preference seems rooted in an ideology that prioritizes settlements and the expansion of Israel’s borders over all else. Others embrace the simplistic argument that international institutions and law are inherently anti-Israel and therefore not worth preserving."
Greenblatt commented on the tweet: "Except there is an important distinction between what you are pulling from the archives and what I pulled. Yours was from your own Opinion column. Mine was not just my own opinion from a speech made at the United Nations; that speech was approved by the White House and State Department and, as far as I know, is still US policy. Some archives are more powerful (and true) than others."