First published by the Middle East Monitor on 8/4/2019
Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians during a protest against construction of Jewish settlement within 43rd anniversary of Palestinian Land Day in Ramallah, West Bank on March 29, 2019. [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]
There is nothing left of the rotten fig leaves which have been used to cover Israeli Apartheid. On 19 July last year, Israel’s parliament and main democratic institution, the Knesset, passed the racist Nation-State Law, which gave the right to self-determination in Israel only to Jews. In the run up to tomorrow’s General Election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed Israel’s Arab citizens to the 22 Arab countries to which they could move.
Emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights, Netanyahu’s appetite for more land theft has turned to the West Bank. He declared that Israel must exercise security control west of the River Jordan and insisted that he will not move a single Jewish settler out of the illegal settlements, whether in the blocs or isolated areas.
Given that the current incumbent of the White House will give his blessing to Israel’s illegal actions once they are sold to him by his Zionist advisers as facts on the ground, Netanyahu has thus laid the ground for Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, possibly in his second term. I am prepared to predict that once the Israeli election is over, the US Ambassador to Israel, David Freidman, will be encouraging Netanyahu to speed up his annexation of the West Bank, to enable him to ask the US President to recognise the annexation as a fact on the ground in this term.
Trump is currently the milch cow that keeps giving to Israel so why not milk him for what it is worth, while he is still around? Why risk delaying US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the whole of historic Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea to a second Trump term, when the American electorate might elect someone else, who may balk at recognising illegal acts? In other words, they may say “sell, sell, sell” in the financial markets, but here it is “take, take, take”.
It has become abundantly clear since Trump’s election and his choice of advisers on the Israel-Palestine peace process, that what Netanyahu wants, he gets. The Israeli premier must be pinching himself as he sits back in Jerusalem wondering if this is for real. The situation is such that if Netanyahu wanted to be America’s Godfather, Trump might just oblige once his son in law Jared Kushner tells him that it is appropriate and long overdue. Bizarre? Of course it is. However, note that Trump recently referred to Netanyahu as the Prime Minister of Jewish American citizenswhen addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas: “I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” (Emphasis added.)
Instead of being troubled by Israel’s naked racism, Trump legitimises law breaking to the detriment of the international order and the status of international law. It is worth remembering that his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has warned the International Criminal Court and its judges against investigating atrocities committed by only two countries, the US and Israel. Netanyahu and Trump are drunk on power and are prepared to treat international law as subservient to their wishes, excusing Israeli breaches but not those of other countries.
This also applies to Israel crying wolf and accusing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign of anti-Semitism when it is the target due to its illegal actions and oppression of the Palestinians; it is quick to call for sanctions against Iran, Iraq and Syria, though. Another example of its self-declared exceptionalism relates to its calling the fence with Gaza an internationally recognised border — alone amongst all UN member states, Israel has never declared its borders — but refusing to withdraw to the internationally recognised Armistice (“Green”) Line with either Palestine or Syria. It is one law for Israel and another, as it sees fit, for others.
What further emboldens Netanyahu is the weak response to his illegal actions by other members of the international community. Take, for example, Israel’s recent announcement that it was advancing plans for more around 5,000 settlement units, all illegal under international law. Just as Britain’s acting Foreign Minister for the MENA region, Mark Fields, published a statementcondemning Israeli settlements, Netanyahu was announcing his intention to annex the West Bank, in which these illegal units were to be constructed. Condemnation alone has proven to be not only inadequate in its self but also coupled with growing trade links with Israel, which is at best illogical and at worst hypocritical.
As Israelis head to the polls tomorrow, they should realise that the label of racism and Apartheid is not only an accurate description of the Netanyahu government’s policies, but also reflects badly on those who elect them. I do not throw accusations of racism around lightly. However, a state which claims to be a democracy but is institutionally racist against its own non-Jewish citizens, as evidenced by over 60 discriminatory laws, and which is selective when it comes the application of international law, must face the consequences that come with this.
Israelis cannot claim that it is not them at fault, but this or that government, given that the majority have elected successive governments that have moved towards far-right extremism and whose Justice Minister recently sprayed herself with “fascism” in an election ad. If their governments do not reflect their views, will they elect a Knesset which reverses the Nation-State Law, gives all Israeli citizens equal rights, pledges an end to the occupation and welcomes Palestinian refugees home? They can do this on 9 April, but will they? Sadly, even if they wished to do so, they will not find a party to vote for which is genuine about wanting peace. Their choice of candidates is limited to those who advocate “hard Apartheid” or “soft Apartheid”.
Apartheid, though, is Apartheid, and it is a crime against humanity. That is what Israel is all about in 2019. It has no fig leaves left to cover this fact.