Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Israeli settlements undermine peace prospects, warns Clinton.

This is the tightrope which Netanyahu now finds himself having to walk in order to satisfy his right wing coalition at home, yet avoid incurring the wrath of Obama and others abroad.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asserted Israel's "right to build" in Jerusalem, following a row with the US over plans for new homes in the city.

"Jerusalem is not a settlement, it's our capital," he said in Washington.
That is music to the ears of his fellow travellers at Aipac, but I note that he does not mention any intention to avail himself of the "right to build", he merely reminds his audience that he has it. He certainly never mentioned the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo where Israel's decision to build 1600 new homes caused such a breakdown between his country and the Obama administration.

And, only at Aipac or in Israel itself could he assert that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. The rest of the world, including the United States, does not recognise this.

Aipac was also visited yesterday by Hillary Clinton, who delivered a very different message from the one Netanyahu was pedalling.
She ended her speech by directly confronting the issues that led to the biggest US-Israeli rift in decades. "As Israel's friend, it is our responsibility to give credit when it is due and to tell the truth when it is needed," Clinton said.

"New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides want and need. It exposes daylight between Israel and the
United States that others in the region could hope to exploit. And it undermines America's unique ability to play a role ‑ an essential role, I might add ‑ in the peace process."
It is reported that what Hillary had to say "left a coolness in the hall".

I am sure it did, but Clinton is to be applauded for telling the truth to a friend who needs to hear it. For far too long American politicians of both sides have been telling Israel what she wants to hear. It has been a suicidal pact which Clinton, for the first time I am aware of, hinted at yesterday.

Clinton told Aipac that the status quo was not an option and that "dynamics of demography" ‑ Palestinian population growth outpacing that of Jews in Israel ‑ would eventually force change, as would more efficient weaponry.

"There is another path. A path that leads toward security and prosperity for all the people in the region. It will require all parties ‑ including Israel ‑ to make difficult but necessary choices," she said.

"Dynamics of demography". That's a very good way of politely asking the Israelis what the answer to the problem is, if it's not a two state solution. For, in a one state solution, Israel ceases to exist. Unless they wish to exist as an Apartheid regime.

That's the part of Netanyahu's stance, and the stance of those on the Israeli right, which I have never understood. They don't have a plan, they certainly don't appear to have one which makes any sense, other than the vague notion that they would like "the Palestinian problem" to go away.

Hillary did them a great favour by standing in the lions den and telling them the truth. Netanyahu is telling them what they want to hear. That's why he remains part of the problem rather than the solution.

“As Israel’s friend,” she said, “it is our responsibility to give credit when it is due and to tell the truth when it is needed.”

That is, indeed, the responsibility of a good friend. And it's long overdue that the US took this stance.

Click here for full article.

No comments: