Once again, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has punched the Obama administration in the stomach and seems to have gotten away with it, just as in the past. This time around he announced this week that Israel is planning to build 1,060 apartments for Jewish colonists in occupied East Jerusalem.
“But as often is the case,” the New York Times reported from occupied Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s decision “prompted swift international condemnation at a time when Israel’s relations with Washington are already strained and risked further igniting Palestinian anger and tensions in [occupied] Jerusalem.”
Yehuda Ben Meir, an expert at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, told the Times that “Netanyahu apparently has coalition problems and thought let’s throw them a bone in [occupied] Jerusalem, which is easier to explain in the world and to the United States.” Ben Meir added, “But you have to see it in the context of the crisis with the United States, the continuous erosion, which is very serious and very dangerous for Israel.”
But the State Department, as has always been the case, looked the other way, repeating a mild and ineffective reaction, “If Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions,” said Jen Psaki, the department’s spokeswoman. “Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”
Psaki’s disapproval was dismissed, even by an Israeli professor of political communications at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, Gadi Wolfsfeld, who hit the nail on the head when he told the Times: “The truth is he [Netanyahu] is not really nervous about America or the world anymore because until now nobody has done anything.” But last July, the Times of Israel exposed Netanyahu’s shocking thinking when David Horovitz reported that “most Israelis would acknowledge that they’ve never been entirely sure how Netanyahu sees a potential resolution of the Palestinian conflict, which concessions he’s truly ready to make [or] what his long-term vision looks like”. This second-longest serving Israeli prime minister “explicitly” made clear that he could “never, ever, countenance a full sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank”, reported Horovitz, and added, that “he more than intimated that he considers the current American [Secretary of State] John Kerry-led diplomatic team to be, let’s be polite, naive.”
And there are many other Israeli violations, including the recent killing of youngsters, one of whom was an American-Palestinian. Disappointingly, the Obama administration has inexplicably failed to take any punitive counter-measures against the right-wing regime in Israel.
Interestingly, Richard Falk, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine, made a sharp observation when he spoke last week at Washington-based The Palestine Centre about his new book, Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope. He said that the argument of his book is that “if you look at the way in which conflicts, political conflicts, have ben resolved since [the Second] World War — in the Global South, or the Middle East, Asia, Africa — the side that wins is not the side that controls the battle field.”
He continued: “The side that wins commands the heights of morality and law. It’s a mysterious assertion and it contradicts what was true before 1945 where, military power was the primary agency of history, but since 1945, the primary agents of history have been people, not military weaponry. And that’s an anti-realist lesson that neither Israel nor the United States have learnt. It was the lesson that the US should have learnt after the Vietnam War... This template, I think, is a source of hope for the Palestinian struggle and people apply only in situations of foreign domination or foreign intervention.”
All are now dependent on the promised hope.
George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He can be contacted at email@example.com