THERESA MAY’S failure to reiterate British government opposition to Israel’s illegal colonisation of the West Bank encourages Benjamin Netanyahu and zionism’s expansionist project.
Decades of complicity by the US and European Union, including Britain, have persuaded Tel Aviv that its systematic dispossession of the Palestinians can be cost-free. While the US and EU pay lip service to a two-state solution, they have done little to make this a reality. With each fresh Israeli housebuilding initiative, Western leaders make concerned clucking noises but do nothing of substance.
Indeed, US leaders usually “balance up” their criticism of Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements by castigating Palestinians for a supposed refusal to negotiate and declaring that West Bank colonisation is not an obstacle to peace talks.
Netanayhu was livid in December when Barack Obama didn’t use the US veto at the UN security council, allowing passage of a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement programme. But the same Obama administration approved a 10-year $38 billion military aid deal to Israel just three months earlier.
Judged by actions rather than words, the US under Obama’s presidency was no friend of the Palestinian people. Donald Trump is likely to be still worse, having backed Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies and supported the provocative transfer of the US embassy in Israel from the internationally recognised capital Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Netanyahu will hope to benefit from Trump’s White House tenure to accelerate implantation of Jewish settlers on the occupied territories. He is a past master at playing off opponents at home and abroad by changing position depending on who he is talking to.
Netanyahu won the general election with an overtly racist “the Arabs are coming” stomach-churning pitch, promising that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch. Re-elected, he addressed the international community, reversing his stance and parroting the “two-state solution” mantra that protects Israel from real international sanctions.
It defies logic to suggest that the Israeli PM is serious about accepting the existence of an independent, coherent Palestinian state alongside Israel, since he has been consistent in efforts to undermine its possibility. But that is the flimsy pretext to which the international community holds tightly to justify its inaction.
The British Prime Minister is as weak at standing up for justice for the Palestinians as she has been in defending pro-Palestinian MPs from scurrilous character-assassination campaigns masterminded by an Israeli diplomat.
MPs have an opportunity this Thursday at Westminster to debate Israel’s illegal settlements and to speak up for Palestinian national rights. Constituents should encourage them to do so, demonstrating a similar commitment to principle that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has always shown.
Corbyn’s condemnation of the Israeli government’s latest approval of a further 3,000 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank stands in stark contrast to May’s failure to mention it.
Britain’s PM should also give short shrift to attempts by Netanyahu and like-minded warmongers in Europe and the US to undermine the international treaty on Iran. How can the Israeli leader’s ravings be taken seriously? According to him, “Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, it threatens the world.”
Even if any of that were true, Tehran lacks any ability to annihilate nuclear-armed Israel, the region’s military heavyweight.
Netanyahu’s rhetoric is designed to distract attention away from what Israel is doing. Israel must be told to abide by international law in its treatment of Palestine and, failing that, to suffer meaningful sanctions.