Thursday, December 29, 2016

Netanyahu, Not Israel, Is An Obstacle

If he deserves credit for anything- and probably he does- Benjamin Netanyahu deserves credit for evidently having read Albert Camus. In The Myth of Sisyphus, the great French philosopher and author writes

For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which become his fate, created by him, combined under his memory's eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human....

In Wednesday's response to John Kerry's brilliant speech on the status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli Prime Minister maintained

the decisions that are vital to Israel’s interests and the future of its children (will) be made by the government of Israel around the negotiating table, making them on behalf of the one and only Jewish state, a sovereign nation that is the master of its own fate.

Notwithstanding Camus, if Israel were the master of its own fate, it wouldn't be fate, but something else, which illustrates an aspect of the answer to the question of why the American Secretary of State chose to make this speech only on his way out the door.

Obviously, the Secretary is clearly setting the Administration on the side of every Administration since President Carter, in contrast to the obvious perspective of the incoming Trump crew. Additionally, however, circumstances have changed, and not because of the USA or Israel's foes.

Secretary of State Kerry explained that the current policies of the coalition government heading Israel are

leading towards one state. In fact, Israel has increasingly consolidated control over much of the West Bank for its own purposes, effectively reversing the transitions to greater Palestinian civil authority that were called for by the Oslo Accords.

I don’t think most people in Israel, and certainly in the world, have any idea how broad and systematic the process has become. But the facts speak for themselves. The number of settlers in the roughly 130 Israeli settlements east of the 1967 lines has steadily grown. The settler population in the West Bank alone, not including East Jerusalem, has increased by nearly 270,000 since Oslo, including 100,000 just since 2009, when President Obama’s term began.

He later added

Palestinian structures in Area C that do not have a permit from the Israeli military are potentially subject to demolition. And they are currently being demolished at an historically high rate. Over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 600 children, have been displaced by demolitions in 2016 alone – more than any previous year.

So the settler agenda is defining the future of Israel. And their stated purpose is clear. They believe in one state: greater Israel. In fact, one prominent minister, who heads a pro-settler party, declared just after the U.S. election – and I quote – “the era of the two-state solution is over,” end quote. And many other coalition ministers publicly reject a Palestinian state. And they are increasingly getting their way, with plans for hundreds of new units in East Jerusalem recently announced and talk of a major new settlement building effort in the West Bank to follow...

Among the most troubling illustrations of this point has been the proliferation of settler outposts that are illegal under Israel’s own laws. They’re often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible. There are over 100 of these outposts. And since 2011, nearly one-third of them have been or are being legalized, despite pledges by past Israeli governments to dismantle many of them.

Now leaders of the settler movement have advanced unprecedented new legislation that would legalize most of those outposts...

The Prime Minister of Israel- similarly to the incoming President of the United States, whom he (currently) adores- seems bent on antagonizing as many people and nations as possible. Ask not, therefore, why Secretary of State John Kerry decided to give this comprehensive speech less than four weeks before he, and the President he serves, leave office. Ask why the Prime Minister of Israel has decided to do what he can to upset the delicate balance which could serve as a bridge toward a final status agreement in greater Israel.

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