Voutenay sur Cure, France.
On February 1 the New York Times broke the news that yet another 3,000 Israeli settler homes are to be built on Palestinian land in the West Bank. The defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared that “We are in a new era, where life in Judea and Samaria [the Palestinian West Bank] goes back to its normal and proper course,” and in spite of this flagrant, nose-thumbing, flouting of international law, nobody is going to do anything about Israel’s arrogance.
In his new immigration policy, Donald Trump won’t be formally forbidding entry of Palestinians to New Great America, because he doesn’t recognise Palestine and never will. But he has designed a way of preventing their travel (and that of countless others) by introduction of ‘extreme vetting,’ which will help to deny Palestine the legitimacy that the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly agreed upon five years ago.
The New York Times reported on January 25 that “the first of the two [of Trump’s] draft orders . . . calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria [which] include organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization.”
It was ironic that also on January 25 the Times of Israel noted that former Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger would go to prison for fraud, breach of trust and tax offenses. His crimes resulted in a sentence of three years in prison and a fine of over a million dollars, and most people think he got off lightly, given the scale of his deception and grubby hypocrisy.
The irony is that the day before the Chief Rabbi was awarded his just punishment, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (himself under investigation for alleged swindling), announced that Israel would continue to commit fraud, pledge itself to breach of trust and offend against law and morality.
His decision to build 2,500 more homes for Israelis on Palestinian land was denounced as illegal by governments around the world (with a predictable exception), and the UN declared that such ‘unilateral actions’ were an obstacle to peace. The European Union criticised the announcement by saying that it “weakens rather than strengthens the prospects for a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process, and makes the possibility of a viable Palestinian state more remote” — which is exactly the intention of the government of Israel.
The EU also recorded that “settlements are illegal under international law and continued settlement expansion also calls into question Israel’s commitment towards reaching a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians,” which highlighted the fact that Israel has no intention of attempting to reach a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and is resolved to destroy them as a nation.
On 24 January the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz observed with admirable objectivity that “Netanyahu has tried to destroy every possibility of achieving a two-state solution . . . With Trump behind him and a silent opposition, the prime minister is leading Israel to a binational state, which will be either not Jewish or not democratic.”
No matter the crescendo of condemnation caused by Israel’s scornful rejection of so many humanitarian principles laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is no doubt that existing illegal settlements will be expanded and more will be built. Israel can afford, politically and financially, to defy the world because it is supported to the ultimate degree by Trump Washington. The President and the entire Congress are solidly on the side of the Zionist state, and with this firmly in mind Netanyahu arrogantly declared that “we came out with one stroke now and there will be more.”
The government of the United States was conspicuously absent from those that condemned Israel for its contemptuous dismissal of December’s UN Security Council Resolution, which described settlement building as a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law, and when asked if Trump supported Israel’s flouting of international law, his press secretary, the truculent Sean Spicer, said that “Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States. He wants to grow closer with Israel.”
This was consistent with Trump’s tweet of December 28, just after the Council vote, to assure Netanyahu that “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
His patronage became apparent on Inauguration Day, when, as the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported, the mayor of the Israeli settlement of Efrat was the first illegal settler ever to be a guest at a presidential installation. His invitation was not unexpected, because Trump has had a deep and personal association with Israeli settlements for a long time. In 2003, for example, he donated $10,000 to ‘Beit El, an affluent settlement of around 7,000 people just north of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.’ The gift was made in honour of David Friedman, Trump’s former bankruptcy lawyer and choice to be ambassador to Israel.
In August 2015 The Times of Israel wrote that “Trump is not an unfamiliar face in Jewish circles. He has served as a grand marshal at New York’s annual Salute to Israel Parade. After Hurricane Katrina, he was among a group of celebrities who decorated Jewish federation tzedakah boxes to be auctioned off to support hurricane disaster relief. In February, he was honoured with an award at the annual gala for the Algemeiner, a right-wing Jewish news organization.”
Trump will continue to help Israelis settle on Palestine lands because Palestinian families do not figure in the Trump list of priorities any more than the world’s refugees strike any chord of sympathy in his flinty heart. He is determined to isolate the people of Palestine and will use whatever means at his disposal to do so. His casual malevolence is becoming the emblem of Brand Trump, and it does not matter who suffers as a result of his bizarre posturing on the world stage. His support for the equally spiteful and vindictive Netanyahu will result in obliteration of the Palestinian people and will create even more resentment and terrorism. It’s called Blowback — and in the end, America and Americans will suffer.