Israel suffered a diplomatic setback at the United Nations last week. All the explanations, excuses, wisecracks and circumlocutions by government spokespeople and Likud members can't obscure the bitter truth. The General Assembly vote making the Palestinians a nonmember observer state put Israel's stark isolation on display - isolation we haven't experienced since the Sinai Campaign of 1956.
This fact should worry anyone who cares about Israel's well-being. The people must not be deceived. The events of last Thursday are a warning sign for the future. They are not a yellow caution light but rather a blinking red light that only an irresponsible person would play down.
It was clear that the Palestinian request for upgraded UN status would attract a majority vote, even a large majority. But Israel was counting on a "moral majority" - a bloc of 20 to 30 countries including Western democracies - to support us and oppose the Palestinian request. That's the way things happened in the past. Not one EC member or other West European country supported the United Nations' notorious resolution in 1975 equating Zionism with racism.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened this time. Only eight countries, including four small Pacific island nations, sided with Israel and opposed the resolution. One European country - just one - voted with us, while most of the European Union, including France, Spain and Italy, supported the Palestinian request.
This is particularly serious because there was no solid justification for the Palestinian request. The request was a violation of the Oslo Accords, whereas it's clear that "Palestine" lacks the minimum traits required of a country. The vote supporting the Palestinian bid is first and foremost a protest vote by Western countries against the Israeli government's bad policy in recent years. This is the rotten result of the actions of the government and Likud's leaders.
The prime minister declares his support at the Knesset, the UN General Assembly and the U.S. Congress for a Palestinian state, as well as his devotion to a two-state solution. But the world is unwilling to accept this when his senior ministers, let alone Likud MKs, speak and act to prevent such a solution. Continued construction in the small and isolated West Bank settlements beyond the settlement blocs is an unnecessary provocation and portrays the prime minister as someone who doesn't speak the truth and undermines Israel's credibility.
The results of the Likud primary had a considerable effect on the UN vote. The rejection of the moderates and the ruling party's rightward transformation into an entity controlled by Moshe Feiglin, Danny Danon, Miri Regev and Zeev Elkin convinced the world that there was no one to talk to. That is, no one among the Israelis, not the Palestinians.
Some people will surely play down the UN's importance - and in fact the United Nations isn't the important issue here and the General Assembly vote won't achieve any significant changes on the ground. Important is the international community and countries around the world. Israel isn't Burma and can't survive in the long term as an isolated country cut off from the Western world. The Israeli people will have a chance in the January 22 election to change Israel's course before it's too late.
A legendary leader of the National Religious Party, Haim-Moshe Shapira, used to say that every electorate gets the leaders it deserves. Let's hope Israel's voters make sure they elect leaders who deserve it.