|Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu|
Last week Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the construction of 3000 new housing units on the West Bank of the Jordan River (Yehudah and Shomron). He is doing this in a section called E1. That is the area between Maleh Adumim which basically borders on the so called “Green Line” between Israel proper and the West Bank. These units will connect the two.
First the disclaimer. I truly believe that in the event of any final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians Maaleh Adumim will be a part of Israel as will any territory between it. I also do not believe that there will be a peace agreement any time soon. The way things are going now, probably never. But in theory at least I don’t think even the Palestinians (Under Abbas - Not Hamas) would disagree with that statement. Why that won’t happen is beyond the scope of this essay.
In a related issue, I also believe that the Palestinians should not have asked to be upgraded at the UN to non-member observer state status, and it should certainly not have been granted. The US and Israel were both right to oppose it.
I understand why the Palestinians did it. They want desperately to have their own state. And they will not get it any time soon through negotiations. So they are doing whatever they can on the international scene to take steps towards making that a reality. And the world says,” Sure”. “Why not?” “Palestinians have a right to a state same as the Jews”.
But as the US pointed out in a very powerful speech by UN Ambassador Susan Rice - this action does not advance the cause of peace and indeed even harms it.
How does this move in any way harm Israel? By upgrading the Palestinians to observer but non member status it can now bring Israel to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and charge it with crimes against humanity in its role as an occupier of the West Bank.
This court according to many opinions will be a kangaroo court when it comes to Israel. That shouldn’t be too hard to believe considering how most of international community usually views the Jewish state. Including the left in both in America and Israel. They see Israel as an oppressive occupier akin to the Apartheid State of pre Mandella South Africa.
That said, I don’t think the Palestinians are going to try bringing Israel to that court. That will most certainly end even the remotest chance for a peace deal. It will also probably end American financial aid to them as well.
It is pretty clear to me that the only reason the Prime Minister has authorized new housing on the West Bank is in retaliation for what happened in the UN. They want to re-assert their right to settle anywhere in Jerusalem and its outskirts. The current Israeli position is that Jerusalem is the once and forever capital of Israel and not subject to negotiation.
While this is a view that I favor, I don’t think it was wise for the Prime Minister to announce new housing on the West Bank at this time. Unless there is an urgent need to accommodate natural growth, it should not have been done. Not because they don’t have that right. But because it serves no purpose other than to antagonize the only real friend Israel has in the world, the United States of America.
It is no secret that the US is against any settlement activity. Even for natural growth. If natural growth isn’t even the reason, why spit in the face of the only friend you have by announcing new construction on the West Bank? Especially right after they cheered Israel on during their incursion into Gaza; paying for the Iron Dome Defense System that saved so many lives. They gave Israel 100% support! And Israel did this right after the US made such a strong speech opposing raising Palestinian status in the UN. The US is only major country to do that aside from Canada? 138 nations voted to support the upgrade including the UK!
Had there been some sort of security reason, I would have supported it. But what will be the fruit of such a move? Well here is what this move has thus far wrought. From YWN:
In this current E1 crisis, the United States has expressed opposition, along with UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, as well as the UK, Germany, Sweden, France and others.
Leading the list perhaps is London, which has signaled it may recall its ambassador over the issue, already summoning Israeli Ambassador to London to the Foreign Office, where he heard of Downing Street’s objections to moving ahead in the E1 area.
What makes matters worse is that this construction will likely never happen unless there is a peace deal. As much as Maleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel praised the move, he is also a realist and admits that construction will probably never begin. So what was gained? Was anything gained at all?
I am a big fan of Netanyahu. But I disagree with what he did here. It serves no good purpose. It has only resulted in a negative backlash. Had the Prime Minster just left things alone he would have been one with the US.
In every move the Prime Minster has taken so far since the American Presidential election, he has had the complete support of the US. And the Palestinians have been in the dog house due to their pre-conditions for negotiating a peace treaty with Israel; the daily Hamas rocket attacks into Israel; and for what Abbas did at the UN. Now with this announcement – Israel has taken a step backward.