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There are plenty of fingers wagging in Israel's direction these days for all kinds of reasons. But where are the metaphorical thumb screws? When any other country on the planet consistently falls foul of the international community's wishes or breaches international law, there is usually some kind of punishment in store. Israel, however, gets away with heinous crimes time and time again.

Israel's biggest crime is, without doubt, its ongoing 43-year-long occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which contravenes United Nations resolutions. Israel has no legal or moral right to any land grabbed during the 1967 war. It was never meant to be part of any Jewish homeland and shouldn't even be up for discussion. To add insult to injury, the Israeli government has chosen to expand colonies on Palestinian land while final peace talks are in limbo, which is outrageous.

Israel's closest allies, the United States and France, are in agreement that colony enlargement is not only wrong but provocative. So far so good, but now what? What are they going to do about it? The answer you already know: Zilch, nada, nothing.

For instance, the French government has expressed "deep disappointment" that Israel has blessed the sale of 240 land parcels for new Jewish homes east of occupied Jerusalem's Green Line. A US State Department spokesman told reporters: "We were disappointed by the announcement of new tenders in [occupied] east Jerusalem…" Aw! Shame! Where's the Kleenex?

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making a mockery of the US-brokered peace efforts and undermining President Barack Obama, who is personally invested, but once again Washington declines to crack the whip. In fact, the real disappointment is Obama. He promised so much and delivered so little. The man of great stature who wowed us in Berlin and Cairo with his strength, understanding and commitment has been substituted by a feeble clone.

America gives Israel $3 billion (Dh11 billion) annually in military and economic aid, along with loan guarantees and weapons, and could, if it wanted, do a lot more to bring Tel Aviv into line beyond insipid diplomatic-speak that packs no punch at all.

On Friday, the Arab League warned that in the event of a breakdown of the peace process, it may declare a Palestinian state and ask the United Nations for recognition. On Saturday, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) urged the international community to put an end to "Israeli arrogance".

Again, those statements are nothing more than sound-bites without any real substance. The US is against any such unilateral declaration on the part of the Palestinians and will certainly block the UN from rubber-stamping a Palestinian state. And as for the international community, it will do nothing without a green light from Washington.

Ineffectual Turkey

Turkey is another country that seems to be all talk and no trousers when it comes to Israel — to use an old English idiom. Israeli commandos attacked a Turkish aid ship in international waters killing nine unarmed Turkish activists yet despite the Turkish leader's fury over the incident, until now, Turkey has refrained from breaking off diplomatic relations with its ally.

Last weekend, the Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again insisted that Israel should apologise for the attack and pay compensation to the victims' families or else face isolation in the Middle East. It seems to me that all he is doing is crying to the wind when Israel has never had any friends in the region since its inception in 1948.

If he is sincere in his determination to gain recompense he should immediately break all diplomatic and economic ties with Tel Aviv and warn the US that should it fail to intervene, it can kiss goodbye to its air base at Incirlik near Adana that has also been an asset to Nato's capabilities.

Turkey is an important member of Nato due to its strategic location straddling Europe and Asia and has been a loyal ally to the US.

However, when the White House had to choose whether to support Israel or Turkey in the dispute, there was no contest. "The nine Turkish martyrs were shot by 21 bullets fired by Israeli soldiers," said Erdogan during an official visit to Pakistan last week.

"We sent the autopsy reports and pictures to the US and the EU, but the US was not ready to condemn state terrorism. This demonstrated the US support for an international terrorist that had killed our nationals in international waters."

Washington is behaving like a doting parent who can't bring himself to dole out tough love to his wayward, addicted child. Unless Israel feels the pain of its actions and understands that it can't go on breaking the rules it will eventually become a hydra-headed, out-of-control monster threatening the region and beyond.


Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at lheard@gulfnews.com. Some of the comments may be considered for publication.