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perspective

Israel on a collision course – for the wrong reasons 


Netanyahu cannot escape the reality that the problem is not a UN resolution but the continuing menace of settlement building 

Israel is taking a leap of faith by thinking it can snub the outgoing US President Barrack Obama, by waiting for a few more days and making a new beginning with the incoming Donald Trump administration.
With a man like Trump, who thrives on the notion that what’s good for him is good for America, such an approach might work. 
The United States has long been a good friend of Israel. The fact that Washington has stood up to the world community against all sorts of resolutions and condemnations on behalf of the Israeli government over the years is a testimony to that. 
One can also make the point that the Obama administration has done more for Israel’s security than any other administration. Earlier this year, Washington approved US$38 billion in defence aid to Israel for the next 10 years. And yet, instead of being grateful Netanyahu is treating this like a small bag of peanuts. 
So this begs the question: Does Netanyahu find Trump a better option? Or is Bibi behaving more and more like the Donald and equating the future of Israel to his own political survival? Trump may be the only major global leader to support Israel’s pro-settler policies. But is Netanyahu willing to pay the price of isolating Israel from the rest of the world?
Israel is the only democracy in that region and one can argue that it would be in the interest of the US to nourish that relationship instead of pushing it towards isolation. 
But it cannot be denied that democracy has taken a beating all around the world. It was democracy that got a Donald Trump elected to head the world’s only superpower and it was democracy that lodged a trigger-happy Rodrigo Duterte in the Presidential Palace in the Philippines.
The US has shown its commitment to the defence and security of Israel for decades and, therefore, good manners demand that Netanyahu should show some appreciation to the US president. 
After all, what did he expect from the UN Security Council? A pat on the back for building settlements on Palestinian land? Netanyahu is aware of Washington’s policy on settlements and the fact that the US was not willing to use a stick to get its point across did not mean that Washington would remain silent on its position. 
“It is not this resolution that is isolating Israel. It is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said this past week. 
Netanyahu can reaffirm the principle of a two-state solution and make deals with the Palestinians or he can keep Israel on the current course of permanent instability with the status quo. 
For the time being, all sides are trying to pick up the pieces following the historic UN Security Council resolution.
Netanyahu is reported to have contacted New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully prior to 
the vote, warning that support for the UN resolution would be equal to a “declaration of war”. After the vote, he has ordered working relations with 12 of these countries to come to a halt. He will soon learn that covering his defeat with arrogance will not get him or Israel very far and that at the end of the day, a fair and sustainable deal will have to be reached with the Palestinians. 

Published : December 31, 2016

By : The Nation