Pressure on Israel grows, but what will be the real response? Published on 19 March 2010 in Israel. 1 Comment Tags: Barack Obama, Gaza, Judaism, Palestine, settlements, United States, West Bank, Zionism.
The latest court gossip about the Israeli/American relationship.
Wake me up when the Jewish state actually reverses any of its occupation.
King Abdullah of Jordan added to pressure on Israel over its settlements policy today, demanding the international community take firm action over what he called the “red line” of Jerusalem.
Abdullah, a close ally of the US and Britain, demanded “firm, swift, direct and effective action to stop Israel’s provocative measures in Jerusalem that seek to change its identity and threaten holy sites”.
“Jerusalem is a red line and the world should not be silent about Israel’s attempts to get rid of Jerusalem’s Arab residents, Muslims or Christians,” the king told Lady Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, according to a palace statement.
The EU’s new foreign policy chief has arrived in Gaza on one of the highest level visits there by a Western official since Hamas took power.
Baroness Ashton’s trip comes amid a new push by the EU and US to revive stalled Middle East peace talks.
The international quartet of Middle East mediators – the EU, US, UN and Russia – is to meet in Moscow later.
As Lady Ashton arrived, militants in Gaza fired a rocket into Israel, killing a man, Israeli officials said.
The rocket struck the Netiv Ha’assera kibbutz in southern Israel killing a foreign agricultural worker, according to reports.
Don’t expect the US to suddenly cancel military and financial aid to Israel, or to stop sharing intelligence. But Washington can display its displeasure in many small but incremental ways, from a critical statement at an international meeting Clinton is attending in Moscow this week to a snub for Netanyahu when he is scheduled to visit DC next week, or an abstention in a United Nations resolution critical of Israel.
Are we seeing the beginning (heaven forbid) of the Obama intifada?
The escalating Arab rioting today in Jerusalem and the West Bank is undoubtedly being stoked up by the fact that the Obama administration has turned so viciously against Israel. Doubtless as a result the Arabs now smell victory within their grasp and may now unleash another wave of violence against Israelis.
Every single one of their recent ‘grievances’ is not just fabricated but stands history and justice on their heads. The ostensible cause of today’s rioting, the re-opening yesterday of the ancient Hurva synagogue in the heart of the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, is a typical example of this fanatical moral and historical inversion. The Hurva has been under reconstruction for years. The Palestinian campaign of incitement over it carries the message that Jews cannot build places of worship in their own city. And before anyone says any of Jerusalem is ‘occupied Palestinian territory’, it is not and never was ‘Palestinian’. In every single attempt to resolve the Middle East impasse, Jerusalem was always regarded as a special case on its own; and from the mid 19th century onwards it has had uninterruptedly a Jewish majority.
Middle America, those millions of mainly Christian souls who are Israel’s staunchest supporters in the world, should be made aware of what their President is doing – turning the United States into a betrayer of democracy, human rights and the Jewish people to become no less than an accessory to terror.
The flare-up between the U.S. and Israel is sorely testing relations between the two countries. It’s also rousing a group of Americans who have been largely out of the headlines in the Obama era: the religious right, which is rallying to the Netanyahu government’s defense.
Gary Bauer, who advised John McCain on outreach to evangelical groups in 2008 and ran for president himself in 2000, just returned from the Jewish state, where he led 700 supporters in a rally for the Israeli government. Bauer, who now leads the advocacy group American Values, is upset that the Obama administration’s decision to take Israel to task over the new settlements. Perhaps no group has been as unflagging in its back of Israel than evangelicals in the U.S.
“I continue to think it’s odd that the U.S. is suggesting to Israel that there are neighborhoods in Jerusalem where more Jews are not allowed to live,” Bauer told The Daily Beast. “This is the first black president, and that is called segregation.”
Israel and America enjoy a deep and multi-layered friendship, but even the closest allies can sometimes disagree. Such a disagreement began last week during Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit to Israel, when a mid-level official in the Interior Ministry announced an interim planning phase in the expansion of Ramat Shlomo, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood. While this discord was unfortunate, it was not a historic low point in United States-Israel relations; nor did I ever say that it was, contrary to some reports.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no desire during a vice presidential visit to highlight longstanding differences between the United States and Israel on building on the other side of the 1949 armistice line that once divided Jerusalem. The prime minister repeatedly apologized for the timing of the announcement and pledged to prevent such embarrassing incidents from recurring. In reply, the Obama administration asked Israel to reaffirm its commitment to the peace process and to its bilateral relations with the United States. Israel is dedicated to both.
To achieve peace, Israel is asked to take monumental risks, including sacrificing land next to our major industrial areas and cities. Previous withdrawals, from Lebanon and Gaza, brought not peace but rather thousands of rockets raining down on our neighborhoods.
Though Israel will always ultimately rely on the courage of its own defense forces, America’s commitment to Israel’s security is essential to give Israelis the confidence to take risks for peace. Similarly, American-Israeli cooperation is vital to meeting the direst challenge facing both countries and the entire world: denying nuclear weapons to Iran.
Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to a comprehensive peace that guarantees Israel’s security and Jewish identity, and provides for a Palestinian state. To ensure that such a state is peaceful, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that it must be demilitarized and that Palestinians must recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, just as Israel is asked to recognize a future Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinians.
Ask Rabbi Sam White what he thinks of the global political row over plans to expand the community in which he lives, prays and studies, and he answers bluntly: “I don’t see the problem. God gave us the land of Israel.” The notion that the location of Ramat Shlomo, on land occupied after the 1967 Six Day War and officially expropriated six years later, might belong to another people is wholly alien to the 32- year-old Salford-born rabbi. “There’s no question. It’s in the Torah, which says that God gave the land to the Jewish people.”
We are talking in a gabled brown brick house which, incongruously set amid the rows of plain white multi-storey apartment buildings in this hilltop settlement of some 18,000 in the north of Jerusalem, looks as if it might have been transplanted from another country. Which in a sense it was. For this is the Chabad House, the community base of the famous Hasidic sect which still reveres the leadership of the late Lubavicher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, its architecture a replica of the movement’s world headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
And Rabbi White is as opposed to territorial compromise of any part of the greater “land of Israel” – stretching, in his view, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean – as his spiritual leader was throughout his long life. “Look what happened in Gaza, when they took the people from Gush Katif [the main settlement bloc in the territory dismantled by Ariel Sharon in 1995],” he says. “An Israel in pieces is not an Israel at peace.”
Israel is being asked to consider a “settlement freeze” in East Jerusalem, which will in all likelihood be as farcical as the “settlement freeze” in the West Bank. ie. building will continue while the rhetoric will change:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been presented with a new proposal according to which construction in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem that are located behind the Green Line will be reduced, while Jewish construction in Arab neighborhoods will be frozen altogether, Ynet reported Thursday.
A similar proposal was brought before the “forum of seven ministers,” but was apparently rejected by right-wing members of cabinet. President Shimon Peres, who met with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday, supports the proposal.
Jewish construction in east Jerusalem has gained momentum since Mayor Nir Barkat took office.