Israel and the Palestinians: The lines harden
Statehood for Palestine has just taken “one step forward and two steps back.”
Statehood for Palestine has just taken “one step forward and two steps back,” said the Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) in an editorial. An overwhelming majority in the United Nations General Assembly voted last week to grant observer-state status to the “dispossessed nation,” and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is claiming a great victory. But Israel retaliated immediately by announcing that it would build 3,000 more housing units on Palestinian territory. That was depressing proof that “the encroachment and illegal expansion policy of Israel is there to stay.” And just look at where those settlements are going, said Murtaza Hussain in AlJazeera.com:on a parcel called E1, “the last unsettled land connecting the theoretical future Palestinian capital of East Jerusalem with the West Bank.” With this plan, the Israeli government has “formally put an end to the possibility of a two-state solution.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s belligerent settlement policy isn’t just punishing the Palestinians, said Ha’aretz (Israel). It’s “seriously threatening Israel,” too. Our friends in the U.K., France, and Sweden are so mad they’re considering changing trade agreements and downgrading diplomatic relations. Netanyahu should rescind his destructive decision “before Israel’s international standing approaches that of Iran.” Now, now, let’s not go all wobbly, said Dror Eidar in Israel Hayom. Israel has always been criticized for its acts of self-preservation. Every time we’ve stuck to our convictions, “the West caved in, because justice is on our side.” That is bound to happen this time, too.
In fact, the Europeans’ sputtering outrage does nothing to further their goal of a two-state solution, said Gil Hoffman in The Jerusalem Post. Israelis generally support these settlements. By condemning Netanyahu for pursuing them, Europe is only driving Israeli voters into the hands of his party and its nationalist ally, Yisrael Beytenu. If their coalition wins a bigger share of the vote in the elections scheduled for next month, the new government will have even “less of a mandate to make concessions.”
“In the mirror of history, both sides looked mostly pathetic this past week,” said Emanuel Rosen in Yedioth Ahronoth.The Palestinians’ achievement at the U.N. doesn’t advance the cause of peace by an iota. And Netanyahu is an obvious hypocrite, mouthing the phrase “two states for two peoples” when he clearly doesn’t believe it “for a second.” Neither side has shown itself willing to replace the constant flow of harsh words with “action and diplomatic courage.” As Abbas and Netanyahu puff out their chests and brag about how they got the better of the other side, they’re failing to admit “that both sides are losing.” Abbas fiddles on with his powerless fictional state, and in Israel power is shifting more and more toward those who are “willing to blow everything up to prevent this land from being divided.” We should be pursuing a historic compromise to end a conflict that makes normal life impossible. Instead, “the Titanic is sinking, and in Israel those who are not willing to give up an inch of the land are dancing on the deck.”