Netanyahu's international isolation and his domestic insolence

Mustafa Barghouti
Friday 12 Feb 2016

In one week, the Israeli government clashed with Sweden, whose foreign minister condemned Israeli violence and excessive use of force and demanded an investigation into Palestinian deaths, and with the EU, which insisted on continuing to put labels on products made in settlements, and asserted that no agreements with Israel apply to the occupied territories.

This has serious political and economic legal ramifications.

It has also clashed with Brazil, which continued to refuse to accept the Israeli ambassador there because he is a settler and leader of a settlement movement. Israel responded by threatening to downgrade the level of relations with Brazil – which is like shooting itself in the foot.

In addition, the Israeli government has clashed with several key churches in the US, such as the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church, which have decided to withdraw all their investments from Israeli banks because they operate in settlements.

If this wasn't enough, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quarrelled with the US ambassador to Tel Aviv, Dan Shapiro, who is Jewish and pro-Israeli, because he admitted that Israel has two legal systems for Palestinians and Israelis. This was indirect admission that it is an apartheid regime.

Netanyahu crowned his diplomatic onslaught with a vicious attack on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon because he called for a freeze on settlements, and said that Israel is mocking the Palestinians and world community, after it reached the end of its tether and an eternity of silence on the crimes of the Israeli government.

This was followed by the British Medical Association demanding that the Israel Medical Association be expelled from all international fora, and a decision by the British Labour Party to boycott the British company G4S because it guards Israeli jails. Several European trade companies have also decided to boycott Israeli products.

Even the New York Times, which can never be accused of being hostile towards Israel, wrote an op-ed on 26 January saying that Israel is quickly moving to impose settlement realities on the ground that would destroy a two-state solution. The article also included more evidence of the systematic discrimination against Palestinians.

Netanyahu knows what these incidents mean and in which direction they are going. He knows that every day Israel is drawing closer to the state of isolation of the apartheid regime in South Africa. His only response is to escalate his McCarthyism campaign against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its activities, and entrench the same policies that lead to isolation such as settlements, confiscating lands in the Jordan Valley, and seizing Palestinian homes in Hebron.

Netanyahu and the pillars of his government are trying to confront isolation by being excessively insolent towards Palestinians, those who stand in solidarity with them around the world, and anyone who objects to Israel's policies. One such example is exaggerated lies and distortion of the truth.

This insolence may temporary appease Netanyahu, but it will not prevent him and his government from sliding into more isolation and clashes with the international community. Excessive lying will only deepen self-deceit.

All the above confirms that the only option for the Palestinian people is to resist occupation, the racist apartheid system and isolation. Those who hope to repeat the failures of negotiating with Netanyahu will find eventually themselves on the sidelines, waiting for a past that will never return.

Mustafa Barghouti is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative


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