Israel and the resolution 2334: At last isolated?

The resolution 2334, stating that Israel′s settlement activity constitutes a « flagrant violation » of international law and has « no legal validity » [1] came as a shock and that, for various reasons: in Israel, it was interpreted as the Obama administration’s last betrayal, after months and months of tensions and petty rivalries, though Obama’s relative audacity consisted in not vetoing a resolution which only officialise a neutral reading of the public international law. In Europe, nations traditionally critical of Israel’s policies in the Middle East appreciated the event as an illustration of the West’s slow shift towards opposing Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruthless and uncompromising imperialism, especially when the United Kingdom, another traditional ally of Israel in the West, decided to support the resolution as well. Yet, will this resolution truly changed the situation over there? Absolutely not: Trump’s rise to power will represent an apogee as far as Israel-United States relations are concerned, with the new-elected president promise to move the US embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. But it does represent an ambitious step towards isolating the arrogant, bellicose and reactionary state Israel has become.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrogance is isolating Israel

Israel’s progressive isolation on the international scene is often depicted by colonisation supporters as the sign of Russia or Iran’s influence, those two countries being for various reasons traditional opponents to Israel – though their own record on human rights are nothing to be proud of. Yet, the world’s rejection of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is not related to the rise of antisemitism within the west, which is frequently used by Israeli conservatives to justify their own sectarianism and intolerance. It has to do with Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrogance and constant lack of elegance whilst managing foreign partners and counterparts. Using unseen threats against New-Zealand [2], bypassing the Obama Administration to directly address the US congress [3], sanctioning the simple application of public international law with economic retaliations [4], or less recently exploiting the despair caused by terrorist attacks in Europe to sell the narrative of a prosperous and peaceful Jewish state [5] won’t help. On the contrary, it has progressively antagonised western public opinions to whom the idea of a secular, democratic Israel ceased to exist after the rise of religious and ultra-nationalist groups within a country that was once renowned for its coherence, moderation and legitimacy. Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to build a coalition with pro-colonisation leaders known for their violent opinions and support to Zionist views [6] eventually reinforced this vision: once oppressed, the Israeli state became the oppressor.

Israel has an history of not respecting UN resolutions

Therefore, the last UN resolution’s content shouldn’t surprise anyone. Before this one, already 34 resolutions were not respected by Israel. [7] These unrespected resolutions generally tackled the same realms of activities: territorial issues and agreements, protection of Palestinian civilians in combat zones, organisation of humanitarian missions, and the impediment of cease-fire – or more frequently, the cessation of hostilities between Israel and different armed movements. If anything, those resolutions are only proving the difficulties experienced by the UN in promoting a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Israel’s refusal to take part to multilateral negotiations. By constantly pushing the colonisation forwards, by protecting nationalist and orthodox groups, by promoting imperialistic speeches, the Israeli leaders’ wishes only seem to be to weaken their Palestinian counterparts as much as they can before negotiating anything [8], thus rigging the game in their favour and that, despise various foreign powers’ efforts to strike a fair deal.

img_3689

That dangerous game eventually backfired, with the colonisation being developed enough to deter Israel’s foes from even attending the negotiation process, putting the entire idea of a two-states solution at risk. Yet, Israel’s enemies will only get worse with their back against the wall: not only is Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies turning the Palestinian lands into a powder keg waiting to explode; Israel’s impunity is literally fuelling violence in the region whilst damaging the West’s reputation and the US’s future and prospective will to put an end to international conflicts.

Israel’s impunity is fuelling violence

Such a behaviour only creates frustration amongst Israel’s partners and implements a sense of humiliation within the mind of the Palestinians, which could eventually represent the single spark this region needs to turn into a raging, international fire. Per Bertrand Badie’s Le Temps des Humiliés [9], that very sense of « humiliation par rabaissement » and « déni d’égalité » can only fuel violence in the Middle East. The solution? To redefine and modernise our diplomatic procedures in order to save some room for alternative powers and that, to curb the rise of frustration and create an atmosphere favourable to negotiations. As the more prosperous, stable, developed country, Israel has an actual duty to promote such an initiative in the region. Sadly, it seems that the only tool Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to use is the military, and that, despite critics insisting on the consequences of an everlasting cycle of violence on the peace process, from the Israeli military. [10]

Obama’s decision in only relatively bold

Yet, for many observers, Obama’s decision not to support the Israeli’s interests in the UN came as a surprise; bold at last, the US president – as the real communication artist that he is – managed to appear as some sort of hero for finally confronting Israel’s faults and Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrogance and ruthlessness. But his decision is only relatively bold. In September 2016, the US in fact decided to increase the military aid to Israel. Since World War II Israel has received the largest amount of foreign assistance from the United States. Although Israel’s nominal GDP is considered to be the world’s 35th, Washington decided to support the country in the peace process and under the pretext of improving the security in the region. But what is even necessary? Between 2019 and 2028, Israel will therefore receive 34 billion euros of military aid from the US, a historical partnership [11] which will have at least two consequences: it will narrow the gap between Washington and Tel-Aviv’s interests, but will also make the option of imposing a weapon embargo in the region illusionary. How so? Because the agreement stipulates that starting in 2025, Israel will no longer be able to use a quarter of those funds to finance its own military-industrial complex, which means that this deal is nothing more than an undirect subsidy to the US’s arm producers.

img_3690

Ironically, this deal also violates the American law since the Foreign Assistance Act states that « no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognised human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges » [12]

Europe should consider isolating Israel further more

This vote, as we showed before, is only partially historical: it does show Israel’s partners reluctance to support an increasingly radical and violent state currently promoting the slow colonisation of the West Bank’s Palestinian lands, and illustrates the consequences of Netanyahu’s unnatural alliances with controversial leaders and parties, but will only have a relative impact on the US-Israel relations, especially with Trump becoming the US president. Therefore, we might wonder what the UN vote truly means, and what’s next for Israel in the region. To that very question, Bloomberg offers various answers, noting that nearly 580,000 Israelis are currently living in authorised and non-authorised settlements in the West Band and East Jerusalem [13] it insists on Netanyahu’s refusal to abide by the resolution whilst quoting Mkhaimar Abusada, a Palestinian political scientist at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University : Resolution 2334 is « a moral victory and a symbolic victory, but at the end of the day nothing is really going to change on the ground and Israel will continue with its settlement construction. » which, once again, makes Obama’s boldness only relative, and Netanyahu’s wrath feigned. What about the Palestinians supporters? Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold also insist on the fact that they « already are trying to haul Israeli officials before the International Criminal Court in The Hague; the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement [14] is urging consumers, artists, universities, corporations and others to cut ties with Israel; and the EU already requires member states to label products from beyond the Green Line distinctively. Resolution 2334 is likely to give a tailwind to those efforts. » Stuck between the two immoderate leaders that both Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are, European nations should consider putting more pressure on Israel. Only then will our homelands remain respected, only then will our promising Union appear as an independent and ambitious political force able to promote a pacified debate in which both Israeli supporters and Palestinians could exchange and interact without resorting to ad hominem attacks, vicious press campaign and political violence. For their security, and our own.

*

Written by Hugo Decis, international relations student and Graduates of Democracy’s Director of Communications, and that in close cooperation with Hannah Hoehn and Boris Garcia, this article has been co-signed by Esraa Osama, Patrik Bole, Cecilia Passaniti, Kuba Stawiski, Carolina Lima Henriques, Vicente Gutierrez Ortega, Emma Sheeran, Pavlos Zoubouloglou, Cristina Català, Maxim Vandekerckhove, Nora Mouallali, Lazlo Bugyi, Nudrat Raza, Nora Szabo-Jilek, Lauren Davies and Sebastian Stölting for they wanted to support its position and expressed opinions.

[1] Israel settlements have no legal validity, United Nations, December the 23rd 2016

[2] « Backing UN vote would be a declaration of war », the Guardian, December the 28th 2016

[3] An Israeli Insult, Slate, February the 15th 2015

[4] Israel to reassess its ties with UN, The Guardian, December the 24th 2016

[5] Netanyahu appelle les juifs d’Europe à émigrer en Israël, le Figaro, 15 février 2015

[6] Meet Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Controversial New Defense Minister, Time, May the 25th 2016

[7] Au Mépris du Droit (1947-2009) : Une Immunité qui Perdure, Le Monde Diplomatique, Février 2009

[8] The Logic of Israeli violence, Jacobin, July the 30th 2014

[9] L’Occident face à la revanche des Humiliés, Le Monde, 02/04/2014

[10] En Israël, 200 anciens militaires présentent leur « plan », Radio France Internationale, 28/05/2016

[11] L’Alliance Militaire […] renforcée pour dix ans, Le Monde, 14/09/2016

[12] Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, LegCouncel.House.Gov

[13] What does the UN vote mean, and what’s next? Bloomberg, December the 26th 2016

[14] Jewish Voice for Peace supports the BDS movement, Jewish Voice for Peace

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Israel and the resolution 2334: At last isolated?

  1. The article is an attempt to analyze the recent resolution but misses some realistic knowledge about basic diplomacy. At least in our current world.

    One of the main reasons we should oppose this resolution or any further continuation of this kind of policy making is because it limits the opportunity to reach a diplomatic outcome. At least in a healthy way.

    Israel’s main concern has been the fact that there are no direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Lets go back over 10 years when Ariel Sharon was Israel’s Prime Minister. Sharon unilaterally decided the settlements were harming the chances for peace and decided to destroy them. He didn’t talk to the Palestinians but simply removed the settlements from Gaza and already planned for doing the same to 2/3s of the settlements on the Westbank.

    The Palestinians were furious, a part of the international community was furious, why, not so much because Sharon destroyed the settlements, who cares, but because he did it without talking to the Palestinians and without offering them specific benefits (only the ones Israel decided upon themselves). This would limit any chance to improve relations between both people, Sharon even build a wall. This simply underlines how the Palestinians and Israeli at the same can be so close and so far away from each other. No matter what you think of Sharon’s policies, no matter how close to actual peace he came, his policies were seen as unilateral.

    Can any of the authors tell me what the difference is with this resolution?

    This time it are not the Israeli who unilaterally decided upon something, but the Palestinians, and they did it via the international community. We can discuss for hours about this but it is a simple fact that Israel was not part of this effort.

    To use a specific quote where Israel’s main concerns are:

    “Opinions in the MFA of Netanyahu’s frenzy are divided: Some of the diplomats agree that a serious act took place that justified such a response. One ministry official said, “They put a mine in that resolution that says that anything beyond the Green Line is illegal. This will harden Palestinian positions, and now they’ll also insist on an Israeli withdrawal from settlement blocs and neighborhoods in Jerusalem that are beyond the ’67 lines: Ramot, Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev and more. This will render the conflict insoluble.”

    You can call upon further isolation of Israel in Europe [which won’t happen], you can call upon more resolutions to question Israeli policies [which might happen], but it won’t bring you anything closer to a realistic peace because simply one party is getting what he wanted. It will make the other party only put his head deeper in the sand. Under Sharon it were the Israeli and now it are the Palestinians.

    You can oppose Netanyahu and his right wing government as much as you want. The same counts for Israeli settlement policy. They are an obstacle to the peace process which justifies any form of European and Western criticism. But this is not the cause of the problem. It are not the reasons both parties are not directly negotiating to each other. Both Palestinians and Israeli can be our friends, you don’t solve this specific conflict over their heads, benefiting one party over the other, with framing and name calling this is simply the most naive and [for the specific parties involved] frustrating thing to do.

    And the result is simple. Israel is now not only moving towards Trump. But also towards the Russians. The same happens when Trump moves the Embassy to Jerusalem. The Palestinians will move further away from the negotiating table. This is the consequence of isolating a state considered to be a friend. You should not do this with the Palestinians. And you should not do this with the Israeli.

    The article on the one side tries, which I can respect, on the other site it underlines the important message as expressed in another article on this blog:

    https://graduatesofdemocracy.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/coming-out-as-a-leftwing-zionist/

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s