It wasn’t enough for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push the peace process back by assaulting Gaza and inflicting massive a massive humanitarian disaster on the area – he is now authorizing the construction of 3,000 illegal settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – to the dismay even of the United States. From Reuters:
Hours after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to grant de-facto statehood to Palestine, Israel responded on Friday by announcing it was authorizing 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. An official, who declined to be named, said the government had also decided to expedite planning work for thousands more homes in a geographically sensitive area close to Jerusalem that critics say would kill off Palestinian hopes of a viable state. The decision was made on Thursday when it became clear that the U.N. General Assembly was set to upgrade the Palestinians’ status in the world body, making them a “non-member state”, as opposed to an “entity”, boosting their diplomatic clout.
The majority of the international community has made it clear that it supports Palestinian statehood and opposes the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land – two facts the Israeli government is unwilling to swallow. As the Guardian notes:
The fact that Israel won the support of just nine countries, including the US, at the UN has caused a degree of alarm inside the Jewish state.
Israeli officials were shocked at the scale of European support for the Palestinian resolution, with France switching sides and Germany abandoning a pledge to vote against. Among EU nations, only the Czech Republic supported Israel.
Israel’s hardening stance is becoming so out of step with the international consensus that is putting itself at great risk going forward. The vicious response to the vote in the UN exemplifies the Israeli doctrine of disproportionate force and makes getting back to peace negotiations close to impossible – and that puts everyone else’s interests in the region at risk, particularly the United States.
Israel is engaging in the overt colonization of another country in full view of the world with no inkling of remorse. Its standing as a respected member of the international community is being irreparably damaged and it is only a matter of time before the status quo becomes untenable. Votes in favor of the Palestinians and condemnation of Israeli aggression and settlement activity in the international community are just the start. The measures against Israel are largely symbolic at the moment, but at some point they will become economic, and change will be imposed on them from the outside. Andrew Sullivan wrote this as Israel pummeled Gaza with hi-tech weaponry earlier in the month:
Without diplomacy toward a two-state solution, we are looking at a lifetime of constant Israeli warfare against all of its neighbors, deeper isolation in the region (with Turkey and Egypt already fast moving away) and growing international pariah status as Greater Israel becomes more fundamentalist and less democratic. And at some point, as America’s energy revolution leaves us less and less exposed to Middle East oil, and as the national interest becomes more attuned to events in Asia and the Pacific, and as the occupation turns Israel into the South Africa of the 21st Century, the Jewish state will become a self-evident burden for America, spawning terror and conflict and anti-Americanism as far as the eye can see. If all Israel can count on then are America’s Christianists and the current GOP, if they continue to spurn American attempts to unwind the conflict by undoing the settlements, then Israelis should be genuinely afraid for their future.
Sadly there are no signs they understand why they should be afraid. And that means there’s still no end in sight.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.