Saturday, December 24, 2016

Obama spits Netanyahu in the face - and Netanyahu carries much of the blame

Before leaving office, Obama decided to spit Netanyahu in the face. The recent UN resolution is a harsh blow to Israel. It does not differentiate between all the scattered settler outposts and for instance the Western Wall and the ancient Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem.

Image result for obama netanyahuHowever, the ultimate blame lies with Netanyahu. HE does not differentiate, but has cast them all in the same bag. With the policies of his extreme right-wing government, he has turned not only Obama, but the entire world against Israel. By devoting his government resources, time and money, to protect illegal settlements such as Armona, rather than to resolving devastating poverty and disengagement from occupied territory, he and his government has thrown the country into darkness and isolation.
While the US abstained and did not veto the resolution, all other Security Council members voted in favor of it, against the destructive process of Netanyahu and his government (in which he himself holds several additional portfolios).

All this does not amount to seeing Palestinian maneuvering in a positive light. At the beginning of his first term as President, Obama asked Netanyahu to make a gesture to the Palestinians, to encourage them to return to the negotiating table. Netanyahu agreed and froze all building in the settlements for ten months, which sadly did not move the Palestinians. With increasing international support, they are not likely to return to negotiations, but proceed on the international arena, gaining increasing recognition, while Israel becomes increasingly isolated, much due to its current policies.
Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians complete return of territory (with exchanges from within Israel proper), but these possibilities for peaceful resolution were rejected by the Palestinian leadership.

Image result for barak arafat
Image result for olmert abbas

At this point, Israel should in my view (and of course Netanyahu is not going in that direction) follow a two-track policy:
1. Be open to both direct and regional negotiations, whether toward a comprehensive solution (less likely) or a step-by-step process, in which small pieces of additional territory is handed over to the Palestinians, each step accompanied by an agreed-upon step by the Palestinians (such as stopping incitement), and
2. Unilateral disengagement from civilian occupation: As a first step, freezing all construction in settlements beyond the security fence, followed by withdrawal from these settlements, which initially should be handed over to the military. Following agreements with the Palestinians, these settlements should eventually be handed over to the Palestinian National Authority. (When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the evacuated settlements were handed over, but sadly destroyed by the Palestinians. In this case, that part of the process should be internationally overseen to prevent a repeat.)

In the hope that in spite of apprehensions, 2017 will turn out to be a constructive year towards peace and reconciliation.

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