Editorial |

Saving Israel From Itself

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Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, addresses the Council after the December 23, 2016, vote on Israeli settlements
Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, addresses the Council after the December 23, 2016, vote on Israeli settlementsCredit: MANUEL ELIAS/AFP

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, passed on Friday by a majority of 14 of the 15 council members, should be seen as the continuation of the tradition of decisions from 1967 and 1973, resolutions 242 and 338, which state the principle that the occupation of territory is unacceptable.

Israel is viewed, in all these resolutions, as holding territories only for as long as there are no Arab sides willing to trade them for peace; and in any case, within the framework of a peace agreement, it must return them.

Though there will be no immediate practical implications for Israel, the resolution, and in particular the United State’s decision not to cast its veto, are a ringing slap in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face. The hysterical response from his bureau – “Israel rejects the contemptible, anti-Israel UN resolution and will not subordinate itself to it,” like the plan to impose sanctions against some of the countries who pushed the resolution – must be seen as part of Netanyahu’s campaign of destruction. He is leading Israel into the abyss of international isolation, and expressing contempt for anyone who dares demand that he stops the settlement enterprise, which casts a heavy shadow over any future possibility for the two-state solution.

Netanyahu’s attack on the Obama administration is part of the same diplomatic blindness. The fact that during his years in office, U.S. President Barack Obama avoided acting against Israel in the Security Council did not benefit Israel, but harmed it. During those years Israel continued to bow to the dreams of the occupation led by the nationalist right wing and religious Zionism. Obama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in order to carry out his vision of peace, was afraid of a confrontation with Netanyahu and the U.S. Jewish lobby, and in doing so contributed to the distancing of a future peace agreement.

A boy sits near an Israeli flag atop the roof of a vehicle at the entrance to the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank October 20, 2016. Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

We must not cooperate with Netanyahu’s attempts to present the U.S. and countries that supported the resolution as wishing ill for Israel, and even among those that supported the resolution are important friends. The opposite is true: Every international attempt to save Israel from messianic visions forced on it by extremist interest groups will only help it to escape the trap of the occupation. The resolution that the settlements have no legal validity and violate international law is not just an obvious declaration. Only in the Netanyahu-Bennett-Shaked government’s deceptive world of mirrors is the obvious presented as a contemptuous harassment. Countries from every continent said to Netanyahu on Friday: enough. While he was dealing with compromises for Amona and the stupefying expropriation laws, the world demanded that he understands that this leads to disaster. This is not the time for taunting responses against the entire world, punishing the Palestinians and revengeful construction in the settlements. Even Netanyahu’s reliance on President-elect Donald Trump will not save Israel from the abyss. The Israeli right, and Netanyahu at its head, must conduct deep soul-searching.