Sunday, December 02, 2012

Israel's "Punishment"

"Netanyahu has already signaled where he is heading: toward extremism, diplomatic isolation, denunciation and ostracism by the world."

Ha'aretz Editorial, Dec. 2, 2012
The government decided this weekend to build another 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and also to move ahead with planning and building procedures for the E1 area, located between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. That is how the government responded to the UN General Assembly's decision to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state; that is how the government decided to punish the Palestinians and the world.
The latter said its piece loud and clear: Yes to a two-state solution. But Israel's government responded with a step that, first and foremost, punishes Israel. The only positive aspect of this decision is the fact that Israel has recognized that the settlements are indeed a punishment.
This is a particularly grave and dangerous decision. Instead of internalizing the fact that a sweeping majority of nations are sick of the Israeli occupation and want a Palestinian state, Israel is entrenching itself even further in its own rejectionism, and deepening its isolation and the disconnect between itself and the international reality. Instead of drawing the necessary conclusions from its resounding failure, the government is dragging Israel into additional diplomatic disasters. And instead of embarking on sincere, genuine negotiations with the new observer state, Israel is turning its back on it, and on the world.

West Bank: Israeli Settlements picture 10
"The high end" -- a settlement above Bethlehem with a superb view of the Mediterranian
The government's decision is the last nail in the coffin of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan University speech in 2009. It is proof positive that this speech, in which he ostensibly accepted the principle of two states, was merely a deception. What is particularly astounding, however, is the violation of Israel's commitment to the United States not to build in E1, given that construction there would preclude the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank. After America was left as virtually the last supporter of Israel's position at the United Nations, Israel is repaying it with a resounding slap in the face.
Israel's decision is also a slap in the face to another loyal friend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who explained Germany's abstention in the vote as stemming from Israel's refusal to stop construction in the territories. So, even before the next election, in which the joint "Likud-Beiteinu" ticket is presenting an especially right-wing, extremist slate, Netanyahu has already signaled where he is heading: toward extremism, diplomatic isolation, denunciation and ostracism by the world.
The world - even including the United States this time - can't allow Israel's arrogant response to pass quietly. This very government decision might serve as a spur to those who want to transfer the settlements issue to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as punishment for the "punishment" imposed by Israel. And the next time Israel needs the world's help, on the Iranian issue or on any other, the world will remember this decision
Prayer Break
Settlements are built by Palestinians on land that was once theirs.

1 comment:

  1. I do understand why Israelis would want to live in government-subsidized housing with a lovely garden and a beautiful view of the sea. The fact that the beautiful spot used to be someone else's paradise would be easily rationalized away -- unless they actually knew any Palestinians who lost their homes or lands.