It is hard to see how Israel can continue to defy the world and persist in its policy of aggression, annexation and occupation, even with US support. The vote count – and, may I add, the writing – are on the wall. The Palestinian flag is flying in the United Nations.
(Daily Times, 5 December 2012)
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again.”
Substitute just a few words in this popular children’s rhyme, “Israel” for “Humpty Dumpty”, “separation wall” for “wall”, and “USA” for “King”, and what you get is history in the making. November has been a bad month for the “bullyboy” of the Middle East and what I am now inclined to describe as his sidekick, the world’s lone – increasingly lonely and decreasingly powerful – superpower.
Correspondingly, it has been a good month for Palestine, no matter the 160 or so lives lost and infrastructure destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Both Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) have reason to rejoice. If Hamas won a significant military and political victory by its successful resistance to Israel’s military might, PA won a resounding diplomatic victory by attaining a “non-member observer state” status in the UN.
The vote in the UN General Assembly was 138 in favour and only 9 against. The “international community” overwhelmingly and emphatically said “yes” to Palestine despite vehement Israeli opposition and relentless US pressure. The list of the seven countries which supported the Israeli-US position makes for a very sorry reading: Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.
Such prominent Western-bloc (non-Muslim) nations as France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Portugal and Ireland voted for the resolution, besides Russia, China, Japan, New Zealand and 124 others. All the (staunchly Catholic) South American countries voted in support (except Colombia). Even such dependable American allies as UK, Germany and Australia abstained rather than vote against.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the decision at the United Nations will change nothing on the ground. It will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state. It will delay it further.” Denigrating the vote as “meaningless,” Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas of spreading “mendacious propaganda” against Israel in a “defamatory and venomous” speech. Defamatory and venomous? Mahmood Abbas? Judge for yourself:
Speaking at the UN, Abbas said, “We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a State established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the State that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine”. The world was being asked to undertake a significant step in the process of rectifying the “unprecedented historical injustice” inflicted on the Palestinian people since 1948, the Palestinian president added.
In comments to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went so far as to threaten the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority if it went to the UN.
And what does Washington think of this historic vote? US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said: “Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”
Lest you have not noticed, Ms Rice, the Palestinian people have woken up every morning, 6,636 mornings to be exact, since the much-heralded Oslo Peace Accords signed under your government’s auspices in Washington on September 13, 1993, to find themselves under the boot of the Israeli army and at the mercy of armed Jewish settlers. And thanks mainly to the financial, military and diplomatic support which your country provides to Israel.
Even former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sounds more fair-minded than Rice and the US Secretary of State. Whereas Hillary Clinton called the vote “unfortunate and counterproductive”, Olmert wrote that he saw “no reason to oppose it”.
Perhaps Mac Deford, a retired US foreign service officer writing in the “Global Post”, is right in wondering why the US “bother[s] to have embassies in the Arab World any more . . . since our diplomacy consists primarily of . . . blindly supporting whatever Israel wants at whatever cost to our strategic interests in the Arab world.”
Assured of the US policy of letting Israel get away with anything, a mere one day after the UN vote the Israeli cabinet authorised the construction of 3,000 more housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and commenced zoning and planning in the highly sensitive and contentious E-1 area of East Jerusalem. And to inflict immediate financial pain on the Palestinians, Israel seized $120 million of this month’s tax money that belong to Palestine.
Although it might seem like the behavior of the street bully who bashes a kid and then, to show his anger, damages his bicycle too, there is a method to this madness. While the UN votes, Europe “deplores” and the US “disapproves” and the Middle East Quartet talks, Israel grabs more and more Palestinian land (and money).
Just in case his Palestinian land-and-money grab has gone unnoticed by the rest of the world, Netanyahu also thundered: “No matter how many hands are raised against us there is no power on earth that will cause me to compromise on Israel’s security.” Some power he must be, the prime minister of a country with a population of 7.6 million (a quarter of whom are non-Jewish Arabs), ranked 97th in the world, about the same as Eritrea, Togo or Laos, and a GNP of $237 billion (world ranking: 52), less than a third that of Taiwan ($875 billion), less than half that of Egypt ($519 b) or Pakistan ($488 b), even less than Bangladesh ($283 b). He even threatens to bomb Iran, with a population of about 80 million and a GNP of $990 billion!
It is hard to see how Israel can continue to defy the world and persist in its policy of aggression, annexation and occupation, even with US support. The vote count – and, may I add, the writing – are on the wall. The Palestinian flag is flying in the United Nations. Transcending political, religious, racial and ethnic differences, the “international community” has said “yes” to Palestine with a very strong voice, a far stronger voice than the one which had said “yes” to the founding of the state of Israel. That vote, in 1947, was 33 for and 13 against (with 10 abstentions).
By Razi Azmi