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Following E1 decision, Israel is more isolated than ever but not likely to change course

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  • Cort Greene
    http://972mag.com/following-e1-decision-israel-is-more-isolated-than-ever-but-not-likely-to-change-course/61381/ By Noam Sheizaf
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2012
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      http://972mag.com/following-e1-decision-israel-is-more-isolated-than-ever-but-not-likely-to-change-course/61381/


      By Noam Sheizaf <http://972mag.com/author/noams/> |Published December 3,
      2012Following E1 decision, Israel is more isolated than ever but not likely
      to change course

      *The government’s decision to promote construction plans for the E1
      area<http://972mag.com/resource-what-is-the-e1-area-and-why-is-it-so-important/61298/>
      and
      build 3,000 housing units in other areas of the West Bank has sent European
      diplomats to a last-ditch effort to save the two state solution.*
      <http://972mag.com/following-e1-decision-israel-is-more-isolated-than-ever-but-not-likely-to-change-course/61381/netanyahu-10/>

      Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So far, the recent diplomatic
      failures didn’t hurt Netanyahu (photo: Avi Ochayon/ Government Press
      Office)

      Israeli ambassadors in several European capitals have been summoned today
      to receive angry responses to Jerusalem’s recent decision: the construction
      of 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank settlements, and the promotion
      of the zoning plan for E1 area, north east of Jerusalem. E1 is the only
      remaining corridor between the large Palestinian cities in the West
      Bank<http://972mag.com/resource-what-is-the-e1-area-and-why-is-it-so-important/61298/>.
      It is the final brick in the great project Likud and Kadima prime ministers
      carried out in the last two decades, designed to encircle the Palestinian
      part of Jerusalem with Israeli settlements and neighborhoods in a way that
      would permanently prevent and division of the city, or any other
      territorial compromise, for that matter.

      A spokesperson for the German embassy expressed “great concern” over the
      decision and called the Israeli government “to reconsider it.” The head of
      the French foreign office told the Israeli ambassador that the settlements
      are “illegal by international law.” Similar messages were expressed by the
      Netherlands and the British governments.
      <http://972mag.com/east-jerusalem-map/38314/ir-amim-map-greater-jerusalem-3/>

      Greater Jerusalem Map, Updated 2011. The E1 area will complete the Jewish
      “ring” around Palestinian East Jerusalem, and will disconnect the north of
      the West Bank from its south (source: Ir Amim)

      The language of the European responses does seem unprecedented. Haaretz
      reported this morning that Britain and France were considering calling back
      their envoys to Tel Aviv (a report later confirmed by the British network
      Sky<http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000803041&fid=1725>).
      Such move seems highly unlikely, but the very notion marks a new low point
      in the relations between the Israeli government and its European allies.
      After four years in power, Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have
      managed to isolate Israel in a way never seen before.

      Yet in the internal Israeli game, all of this won’t matter that much. The
      Israeli public has grown used to hearing report of European and American
      condemnations of construction projects. The same headlines have been
      declaring for four decades that “the American administration is
      dismayed<http://www.promisedlandblog.com/?p=1810>”
      or that “the European Union
      condemns…<http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/14/us-eu-israel-palestinians-idUSBRE84D0SH20120514>”
      Not only does it seem that Netanyahu won’t lose support with the public,
      Likud ministers were going around explaining to the public why only “light
      measures” against the Palestinian Authority were taken.

      In the early Israeli evening, a government spokesperson told
      Haaretz<http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-aides-israel-will-not-cancel-settlement-expansion-plans.premium-1.482149>
      that
      the decision Israel has made – among them the confiscation of almost half a
      billion shekels ($120 million) of tax money that Israel collects for the PA
      – will not be reconsidered. The government also announced that further
      steps will be considered if the PA takes any other unilateral actions.
      Jerusalem, it seems, simply sees Palestinians – their foreign policy
      included – as its prisoners, subjects to sticks and carrots according to
      the degree to which they stay in line with the Likud’s policy objectives.

      It is not surprising though that the diplomatic drama of the last couple of
      weeks is met with indifference in both the Israeli and the Palestinian
      public. I highly recommend reading Haggai Matar’s account of the sad
      “independent night” in
      Ramallah<http://972mag.com/a-sad-day-of-victory-in-ramallah/61169/>.
      Clearly, any sense of Palestinian national pride that the UN vote could
      have brought is overshadowed by the understanding that at this point in
      time, there is nothing farther away than the establishment of a contiguous,
      independent Palestinian state.

      The debate over what contiguity means alone reflects the low point in which
      we are: In the Oslo accord, Israel specifically committed to viewing the
      Gaza Strip and the West Bank as one unit. A couple of years ago, I posted an
      official IDF slideshow<http://972mag.com/idf-document-policy-principle-separating-gaza-from-west-bank/1719/>,
      casually mentioning the separation of the Gaza and the West Bank as an
      Israeli policy objective. Today, with the settlement of Ariel (16 miles
      into the West Bank) and its access road seen by the government as one of
      the future “settlement blocs” which will be kept in Israeli hands, along
      with construction in E1 moving forward, it seems that the West Bank along
      will soon be torn into three pieces, while the Gaza strip – whose border is
      open only from its Egyptian side – could just the same be on a different
      planet. And the future? Even if Israel was to remove some 50 to 80
      thousands settlers – clearly a fantasy at this point in time – all the
      Palestinians could hope for is something between the famous “Palestinian
      Archipelago” map<http://bodyontheline.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/archipelago-eastern-palestine.jpg>
      and open-air prison<http://972mag.com/how-we-created-the-worlds-only-prison-where-prisoners-provide-for-themselves/54706/>
      which
      is now Gaza.

      The European policy, even at its most engaged moments, is using the
      conceptual framework of the 80′s and 90′s to deal with a problem that has
      gone through considerable changes. More failures are all but inevitable. I
      seriously doubt whether the European Union is able to enforce its own ban
      on products from the settlements, but even if it does, it would be like
      trying to turn a car around by arguing with one of its wheels. The economy
      of the occupation – for Palestinians and settlers alike – is part of the
      Israeli economy by now, just as the military justice system in the West
      Bank is part of the Israeli court system. The argument over a single house
      here or a neighborhood there has clearly run its course.

      The Palestinian problem is a human and civil rights problem disguised as a
      diplomatic issue. An adequate approach to the occupation would put forward
      the problem at hand and not the desired solution, which at the moment seems
      more like a fantasy. The problem is the military control over the lives of
      millions which has lasted for over half a century, and the absence of
      political and human rights that comes along with said rule. A Palestinian
      state is one possible solution to this situation, but it shouldn’t be a
      policy objective on its own. Treating it like one gives the Israeli
      leadership an incentive to use the Palestinians as prisoners and their land
      as a bargaining chip. Israel should face demands that have to do with
      Palestinian rights – including a just solution to the refugee problem –
      accompanied by adequate policy measures. Among other things, the result
      will be a more honest public debate in Israel, and a policy which is more
      accountable for its long term affects.

      *Related:*
      Palestinian President Abbas: The only leader fighting for the Jewish
      state<http://972mag.com/palestinian-president-abbas-the-only-leader-fighting-for-the-jewish-state/61223/>
      Resource: What is the E1 area, and why is it so important?
      <http://972mag.com/resource-what-is-the-e1-area-and-why-is-it-so-important/61298/>


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