Archive for the ‘Britain and UN Security Council resolution against Israel’ category

How should Israel respond to Obama’s betrayal and Resolution 2334?

January 3, 2017

How should Israel respond to Obama’s betrayal and Resolution 2334? | Anne’s Opinions, 3rd January 2017

Party like it's 1949 By AF Branco at Legal Insurrection

Party like it’s 1949 By AF Branco at Legal Insurrection

The implications, immediate and far-reaching, have been discussed almost ad nauseum in the political world, in the media, even on this little blog. But the question remains: what ought Israel do in light of the resolution’s adoption, and how should we respond (if at all) to Obama’s betrayal?

Isi Leibler, in his column at the Jerusalem Post, asks this very question. In answer he recommends Jewish unity, bi-partisan Jewish support of President-elect Trump, and a plea to Israeli politicians to stop antagonising the nations with their loose-lipped talk and shoot-from-the-hip political suggestions:

We are more powerful today than ever before and in the course of our history we have successfully overcome far greater threats to our existence than the United Nations. Now is a time for us to display unity and strength.

In this context, if the proclaimed decision to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem is implemented it will send the world a powerful message. To his credit, Trump used all his weight as an incoming president in efforts to ward off the UN resolution, albeit unsuccessfully.

In light of these developments most of the mainstream Jewish leadership who were in denial for over eight years should share a deep sense of guilt and shame.

They remained silent as Obama treated Israel diplomatically as a rogue state whilst he groveled to the Ayatollah. They continued voting for him and we now see how he repaid them. The only consistent critic was indefatigable Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America who has now been more than vindicated.

Individual American Jews are free to express their personal political opinions in any manner they deem fit, but mainstream Jewish organizations are obliged to avoid activity which reflects political bias.

But now is the time for us to look forward and unite. This U.N. resolution was not just about settlements. It was to undermine the security of the state and pave the way for anti-Semitic boycotts and sanctions by those seeking Israel’s demise.

The resolution employing Obama’s malevolent views made no distinction between isolated outposts and settlements in outlying regions and Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem including the Western Wall.

Looking down onto the thousands of people crowding the Kotel plaza, Sukkot 2016

Looking down onto the thousands of people crowding the Kotel plaza, Sukkot 2016

Any Jew who endorses the view that Judaism’s most sacred site – formerly occupied by the Jordanians who denied Jews access to worship – is occupied territory is reminiscent of medieval “mosers” (informers), who were ostracized from the religious and social life of the community. Those in J Street, The New Israel Fund and other far left Jewish groups who consider Jewish districts of Jerusalem and Judaism’s holiest site to be “occupied territories” should be regarded as renegades and treated as such.

The immediate challenge is to encourage the incoming Trump administration to salvage what it can from Obama’s betrayal of Israel.

Most important to note is that the moderate Sunni countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states will be desperate to ally themselves with Trump and are hardly likely to do more than express formal protests if and when the US treats Israel as a genuine ally.

But for this to be effective, Israel must tread cautiously and not provoke the incoming administration by seeking to impose arrangements without prior consultation.

Naftali Bennett and other right-wing elements should be silenced and Prime Minister Netanyahu must be enabled to determine the attitude of the new administration. They should also realize that whilst there is close to a consensus for ultimately annexing the settlement blocs and creating defensible borders, most Israelis do not seek to incorporate Judea and Samaria in their entirety because this would effectively lead to the demise of a Jewish state and its substitution by a binational state which would be swallowed up by the Arab world.

The recent statements and settlement policies certainly provided Obama with additional ammunition to justify his perfidious initiative. But it is almost certain that he would have acted no differently had the government not been engaged in any public discussion because his prime intent, since the day of his inauguration, has consistently been to impose such a settlement on Israel.

The reality is that all political parties – other than the Joint Arab list and Meretz – are no less opposed to this resolution than the government. This is surely a time for all political parties to set aside parochial squabbles and act in the national interest by displaying strength and unity.

Jewish unity is always an excellent idea, particularly in times of trouble. Whether American Jews or Israel’s politicians will pay any heed to Leibler’s suggestions is another matter altogether.

In contrast to Leibler’s plea for caution on the subject of settlements, Evelyn Gordon urges “Build baby, Build” – settlements of course:

There’s really only one suitable Zionist response to last week’s UN Security Council resolution on the settlements: massive settlement construction. That’s the appropriate response for more than one reason, but I’ll focus here on the most obvious one: The resolution proves conclusively that Israel gets no credit for showing restraint on this issue, so there’s no earthly reason why it should continue suffering the costs of restraint.

As I’ve written repeatedly in the past, data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that there has been less settlement construction under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than under any of his predecessors. Nor is this a matter of partisan dispute: The left-wing daily Haaretz, a virulent opponent of both Netanyahu and the settlements, used the same data to reach the same conclusion last year.

For Netanyahu, this restraint has come at a real price. First, it caused him political damage, because it infuriated his voter base. The result, as I’ve noted before, is that by last month, he was facing an open revolt in his own party over the issue.

Second, it caused Israel strategic damage, because it kept the country from strengthening its hold over areas that most Israeli governments have considered essential for security under any future agreement. To take just one example, all Israeli premiers have deemed the E1 corridor, which links Jerusalem with the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement bloc, critical for Israel’s security – even Yitzhak Rabin, the patron saint of the peace process. Moreover, E1 in no way prevents the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state, and has actually been assigned to Israel by every serious international peace plan ever proposed. Yet for years, Israel has refrained from building there out of deference to international public opinion, even as illegal Palestinian construction has mushroomed in this formerly empty area. The result is that it now has no “facts on the ground” to act as a counterweight to Palestinian claims. And since Palestinian claims always enjoy the international community’s automatic support, facts on the ground, in the form of large numbers of Israelis whom it’s simply too difficult to evacuate, are Israel’s best guarantee of retaining areas it deems essential to its security.

Rise in house prices in Israel because of a housing shortage

Rise in house prices in Israel because of a housing shortage

Third, settlement restraint has caused major financial damage by exacerbating Israel’s massive housing crisis. As of last year, the price of an average apartment had soared to 146 average monthly salaries, more than double the ratio in most other countries, and up from just 43 in 2008; rents have risen correspondingly. In short, housing in Israel has simply become unaffordable for most people, and that’s a major threat to Israel’s future:…

The settlement blocs are all within commuting distance of the center of the country, which is where the jobs are, and thus where people want to live; inside the Green Line, in contrast, there are few empty areas left in the country’s narrow waist. And in Jerusalem, the housing shortage is the main reason why the capital loses some 18,000 Jews every year.

Commuting distances from Kedumim in the Shomron (Samaria) to other Israeli cities

Commuting distances from Kedumim in the Shomron (Samaria) to other Israeli cities

Netanyahu was willing to absorb all this damage in the belief that international leaders, regardless of what they said publicly, would know the truth about the brakes he has put on settlement construction and support him when it mattered. But to most of the world, the facts have never mattered where Israel is concerned, and it turns out the same is true of the post-truth Obama Administration.

So if Israel is going to be accused of “accelerated settlement activity” and slapped with potentially serious consequences no matter how much restraint it shows, there’s no justification whatsoever for it to incur the very real costs of this restraint. Hence there’s only one sensible response to this resolution: Build, baby, build.

And once again, in case anyone had the slightest doubt about the invalidity of the “Israeli occupation” myth, law blogger Elliott Hamilton lays to rest the myth of the “illegal Israeli occupation” in a scholarly article in The Daily Wire.

From the perspective of someone who does not understand international law or the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this resolution tells the story that Israelis have trampled over Palestinian lands illegally and decided to build houses on them in a fit of colonial aggression. Unfortunately for them, that is nonsensical and false.

I recommend you read the entire article which has detailed quotes from the laws of treaties from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

His concluding paragraph chimes with the Quora comment by Gail Ellis which I quoted in my earlier piece on “what’s wrong with Resolution 2334“. Hamilton writes:

Since there has never been a sovereign state of “Palestine” prior to 1948 or 1967 and since there is still no legitimate state of “Palestine” today, there cannot legally be an “occupation of Palestinian lands” by Israel according to the Hague Convention of 1907. Since there was no legitimate Palestinian state and Israel already has legal claim to Judea, Samaria, and Eastern Jerusalem, Israel has the right to build Jewish communities in disputed territory in Area C until a final peace agreement is signed with the Palestinian Authority, if that is still possible at this point…

We must keep hammering this point home until the world gets it.

Britain’s Little Lies

December 31, 2016

Britain’s Little Lies, Gatestone Institute, Douglas Murray, December 31, 2016

This is a serious category error for a Prime Minister to make. It puts critics of a religion on the same plane as people wanted for terrorism. It blurs the line between speech and action, and mixes people who call for violence with those who do not.

Only now, a fortnight later, has the true duplicity of Theresa May’s speech been exposed. For now the world has learned what diplomacy the British government was engaged in even as May was making her speech. At the same time as the Prime Minister was talking about “true friendship” in front of friends of Israel, her government was conspiring with the outgoing Obama administration to kick that friend in the back. The British government was exposed as being one of the key players intent on pushing through the anti-Israel UNSC Resolution 2334. British diplomats were revealed to have been behind the wording and rallying of allies for the resolution.

The British government, whilst saying that it remains committed to a peace deal that comes as a result of direct negotiations between the two sides, has its own preconditions for peace: a freeze on the building of what it calls “settlements.” They maintain this line despite the fact that settlements have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Before the June 1967 Six Day War, there were no such things as “settlements.” Palestinians were trying to destroy and displace Israel anyhow. The core problem is not, and never was, “settlements,” but the right of Israel (or any non-Muslim nation) to exist inside any borders in that part of the world.

If you take a stand that is based on a lie, then that stand cannot succeed. If you try to oppose anti-Semitism but pretend it is the same thing as “Islamophobia,” then the structure on which you have made your stand will totter and all your aspirations will fail. If you try to make a stand based on the idea that settlement construction rather than the intransigence of the Palestinians to the existence of a Jewish state is what is holding up a peace deal, then facts will keep on intruding.

On December 12, the Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, gave a fulsome speech to the annual Conservative Friends of Israel lunch. Before a roomful of 800 pro-Israel Conservative MPs and party supporters, she lavished praise on the Jewish state. She praised Israel’s achievements and castigated its enemies. She said that Britain would be marking the centenary of the Balfour declaration “with pride.” She also stressed that cooperation and friendship between Britain and Israel was not just for the good of those two countries, but “for the good of the world.”

For many of the people listening in the room, there were just two discordant notes. The first was related to the focus on anti-Semitism in May’s speech. As she used the opportunity rightly to lambaste the Labour party for its anti-Semitism problem, she extended the reach of her own claims for herself. While boasting of her success as Home Secretary in keeping out the prominent French anti-Semite Dieudonné and finally deporting the Salafist cleric Abu Qatada al-Filistini back to his native Jordan, she also used the opportunity to congratulate herself for banning Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Pastor Terry Jones from coming to the UK. “Islamophobia comes from the same wellspring of hatred” as anti-Semitism, she explained.

This is a serious category error for a Prime Minister to make. It puts critics of a religion, such as Geller and Spencer, on the same plane as people wanted for terrorism (Qatada). It blurs the line between speech and action, and mixes people who call for violence with those who do not. The comparison also fails to follow the consequences of its logic to its own illogical conclusion. The comparison fails to recognise that anyone who objects to Islamic anti-Semitism is immediately known as an “Islamophobe.” Therefore, someone hoping to come to Britain would have to accept being attacked by Muslim extremists for fear of being banned from entering the UK. These are serious and basic misunderstandings for a Prime Minister to propagate.

There was, however, a clear political sense to them. A Prime Minister in a country such as 21stCentury Britain might believe that he or she has to be exceptionally careful not to appear to be criticising any one group of people or praising another too highly. So for the time being in Britain, a moral relativism continues to stagnate. If the Jewish community complains of anti-Semitism, then you must criticise anti-Semitism. If the Muslim community complains of “Islamophobia,” then you must criticise “Islamophobia.” To make value judgements might be to commit an act of political folly. Wise leaders in increasingly “diverse” societies must therefore position themselves midway between all communities, neither castigating nor over-praising, in order to keep as many people onside as possible.

2172UK Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the annual Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, December 12, 2016. (Image source: Conservative Friends of Israel)

The same tactic brought the other discordant moment at the Prime Minister’s lunch — the same tactic brought to the discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. For the other discordant note in May’s speech came when she mentioned Israeli settlement building. It was carefully placed in the speech, after a passage in which May congratulated her own Department for International Development (DfID) Minister, Priti Patel. In the days before the lunch, Patel had announced that DfID would carry out an investigation to determine whether British taxpayer money being sent to what May called “the Occupied Palestinian Territories” was being used to fund salaries for Palestinians convicted of terrorism offences against Israelis. Following this May said:

“When talking about global obligations, we must be honest with our friends, like Israel, because that is what true friendship is about. That is why we have been clear about building new, illegal settlements: it is wrong; it is not conducive to peace; and it must stop.”

The comment was received in silence and May moved on.

But this comment fitted in closely with the strategy of her other comment. For having lavished praise on Israel, a castigation apparently seemed necessary. It is wrong, but hardly possible for a British Prime Minister currently to do otherwise. If there are terrorists receiving funds from British taxpayers thanks to the largesse of the UK government, then this may — after many years of campaigning by anti-terrorism organisations — finally be “investigated.” However, throughout any such investigation, the British government, whilst saying that it remains committed to a peace deal that comes as a result of direct negotiations between the two sides, has for years announced its own preconditions for peace: a freeze on the building of what it calls “settlements.” They maintain this line despite the fact that settlements have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Before the June 1967 Six Day War, there were no such things as “settlements.” Palestinians were trying to destroy and displace Israel anyhow — in 1948, 1956, and 1967. The core problem is not, and never was, “settlements,” but the right of Israel (or any non-Muslim nation) to exist inside any borders in that part of the world.

At the time of May’s speech, these two issues seemed like minor cavils to some and gained little notice. Only now, a fortnight later, has the true duplicity of the speech been exposed. For now the world has learned what diplomacy the British government was engaged in even as May was making her speech.

At the same time as the Prime Minister was talking about “true friendship” in front of friends of Israel, her government was conspiring with the outgoing Obama administration to kick that friend in the back. In the wake of the collapse of the Egyptian-sponsored initiative at the UN, the British government was exposed as being one of the key players intent on pushing through the anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334. British diplomats were revealed to have been behind the wording and rallying of allies for the resolution.

The most obvious interpretation of this fact is simply a reflection that friends do not kick friends in the back. Especially not in the world’s foremost international forum for kicking that particular friend. But some people are putting a kinder interpretation on the facts. The kindest to date is that the May government believes that a sterner line on the issue of Israeli settlements would give the British government more leverage with the Palestinians.

If that is so, then it seems that the May government will have to learn abroad the same lesson that they must learn at home. Both will come about because of the same strategic mistake: a reliance on the short-term convenience of what must seem at first to be only convenient little lies. The problem is that such little lies, when tested on the great seas of domestic and international affairs, have a tendency to come to grief with exceptional rapidity and ease.

Politicians are keen on taking stands. But if you take a stand that is based on a lie, then that stand cannot succeed. If you try to oppose anti-Semitism but pretend it is the same thing as “Islamophobia,” then the structure on which you have made your stand will totter and all your aspirations will fail. If you try to make a stand for Israel while simultaneously conniving at the UN to undermine Israel, then your duplicity will be exposed and admiration for this and other stands will falter. If you try to make a stand based on the idea that settlement construction rather than the intransigence of the Palestinians to the existence of a Jewish state is what is holding up a peace deal, then facts will keep on intruding. They have before — at home and abroad — and they will again.