Editorial |

Dangerous Immunity

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the gala honoring the U.S. Embassy's move to Jerusalem, May 13, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the gala honoring the U.S. Embassy's move to Jerusalem, May 13, 2018.Credit: Emil Salman

The uncompromising backing that Donald Trump gives Israel has liquidated the international community’s power to use diplomacy to restrain Israel’s behavior.

Under the auspices of an American president who recycles Israeli propaganda in his speeches and gives the Israelis carrots and the Palestinians sticks, Israel treats the international responses to the bloodbath in Gaza with contempt.

Nobody in the Prime Minister’s Office seems bothered by the acute diplomatic crisis with Turkey, which was generated by the events on the Gaza Strip border, or by Turkey’s expulsion of Israel’s ambassador. The Foreign Ministry hastened to order the Turkish consul to return to his country for “consultation,” and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, was dragged into a harsh verbal duel with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Netanyahu is convinced that the Turks in general and Erdogan in particular have no right to preach morality to Israel.

Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg have summoned Israel’s ambassadors to hear their protests, and their prime ministers are demanding to set up international inquiry commissions for the events. South Africa has recalled its ambassador from Israel and Britain is demanding an independent inquiry into the killings and into the IDF’s rules of engagement. However, none of this seems to bother the Israeli cabinet. Netanyahu appears to believe that none of these states have the right to lecture Israel either.

Israel’s diplomatic indifference is absolute, so there was no one to take the UN’s Security Council’s emergency meeting yesterday seriously. The meeting began with a minute’s silence in memory of the slain people in Gaza. Due to the United States’ veto power, the council has no real power to deter or punish Israel. Israel has become immune to the UN’s criticism due to the diplomatic umbrella provided by the United States, via its belligerent UN ambassador Nikki Haley.

“No country would act with greater restraint than Israel,” she said. Netanyahu couldn’t have put it better. Haley also left the room when the Palestinian representative started speaking.

Israel’s blatant scorn for criticism could harm it in the long run, both diplomatically and economically. The sense of immunity is dangerous, indicating a mistaken complacency. Trump isn’t the only ruler in the world and his term is limited. More importantly, even if the criticism of Israel is not enough to influence its situation right now, it must ask itself if this is the path it wants to follow. Can it live in peace with its reflection from the pictures and footage streaming out of Gaza on Monday?

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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