The train en route to the total deligitimization of Israel is rolling down the track at breakneck speed and, once again, not only does the world sit by and do nothing, but, in fact, the nations of the world feed the fuel guzzling engine that provides its propulsion.
That train left the station with the passing of UN Resolution 2334 by a vote of 14-0 with one abstention, that of the United States. The resolution states that Israel′s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”. It demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
It was the first UNSC resolution to pass regarding Israel and the Palestine territories since 2009, and the first to address the issue of Israeli settlements with such specificity since Resolution 465 in 1980. While the resolution did not include any sanction or coercive measure and was adopted under non-binding Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, clearly it could have serious ramifications for Israel in general and specifically for the settlement enterprise in the medium-to-long term.
Although the resolution was originally submitted by Egypt, it was ultimately withdrawn by them under pressure from US President-elect Trump but resubmitted days letter by a gang of four (Senegal, Malaysia, New Zealand and Venezuela), presumably as near as anyone can tell with the tacit approval, if not actual encouragement of the United States.
The next stop for the train was US Secretary of State John Kerry’s hour long speech at the State Department last week where he laid out the US’ plan for moving the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations forward towards a two-state solution. There was nothing new in his presentation except for the fact that for the first time the US spoke about recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. It is clear that this was fully vetted by President Obama and was quickly welcomed by the community of nations as a roadmap for the Paris Peace Conference scheduled for January 15th.
A few days after the Kerry speech the train arrived at another station with the broad acceptance of his plan by the more moderate members of the Arab League, who also voiced no objection to the clause about Israel being the nation-state of the Jewish people. Clearly this was meant to shore up overall support for the plan which will be the basis of discussion at the next stop on the train’s route. The lack of objection to the “nation-state” issue will no doubt be pointed to as evidence of the generosity (sic) of the proposal.
In less than two weeks 70 world leaders will convene in Paris, sans representatives of Israel and the Palestinians (strange, no?) to, once again, discuss moving the peace talks forward. There is little doubt that this event is one that, once again, has been orchestrated with the tacit approval of the US government in its continued effort to pressure Israel into a diplomatic position not only not of its own choosing but also inimical to its own welfare.
Across the spectrum American Jewish organizations have expressed their strong opposition to the conference. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the conference proposal, making clear that he would agree to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for talks, but only if there is no international summit. Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called this week for the French to cancel or, at least, postpone what they called an “ill-conceived, poorly timed and damaging” event.
But no doubt the conference will take place as there does not seem to be any desire on the part of French President Hollande, who is the host, to do otherwise. And no doubt some resolution passed by something close to a unanimous vote will emanate from the conference once again calling on Israel to be the good guy and make concessions to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Of course, it goes without saying, that the conference will further ratify last month’s Security Council resolution which postulated that the settlements were illegal under international law.
But that will not be the last station at which the train will stop. There is every possibility that the United States, in its desire to block any counter actions by the President-elect, will stand idly by as the rest of the world brings this new resolution to the United Nations Security Council before noon on January 20th. The purpose being to enshrine the outcome of Resolution 2334 and the vote of the Paris Conference into law which will then tie the hands of the new US President and make everyone here in Israel involved with the settlement enterprise subject to prosecution in the International Court of Justice as well as other countries where such legal action against third country parties is permissible under law.
Outlandish? Not possible? It will never happen? Well enough things all of us thought would never happen have occurred during 2016 sufficient enough to make us believe that this train can, indeed, reach its final station. Sadly, if it does, it appears that it will also be with the blessing of our supposed best friend in the world.
But lest I be accused of identifying a problem and not offering some action that all of us could take, permit me to offer a concrete suggestion of what we need to do before January 15th. At a minimum we all need to write to the Prime Ministers of the western countries and others and urge them not to attend but, if they do participate, not to agree to any vote that will further isolate or put into peril the existence of Israel. Americans particularly need to flood the State Department and the White House with letters urging the US not to be a party to what could be, in a worst case scenario, the beginning of the end of Israel as we know it.
We dare not stand idly by watching the train when we have in our hands the combined ability to derail it. Let us hope that, this time, we are up to the task.