Amid an already heavy dose of criticism for its settlement practices in the West Bank, Israel has now been rebuked by its greatest allies. The United States, Britain, and the European Union mounted attacks on Israeli’s systematic settlement campaign in the Palestinian West Bank. The criticism of Israeli settlements in the West Bank comes at a time when Palestinian legitimacy is on the rise. Just two weeks ago the United Nations General Assembly recognized Palestine as a state, and despite Israeli opposition to Palestine’s bid for statehood, the international community seems to have taken a different view.
The United States, Britain, and the E.U., respectively, are widely recognized as Israel’s greatest allies; they are rarely critical of Israel’s questionable conduct toward Palestine. However, the most recent comments by the three allies may tell a new story. Yesterday, the United States State Department released a press briefing questioning the propriety of Israeli’s conduct in the West Bank, stating that “settlement activity (in the West Bank) [will] only put the goal of peace further at risk.” Meanwhile, the British Foreign Ministry made a statement which is generally accepted by the international community but rarely, if ever, expressed by Britain when it said that the Israeli settlements in the West bank “are illegal under international law.” Furthermore, the E.U. recalled their diplomatic core from Israel in an effort to protest the most recent Israeli announcement that it would step-up its campaign of building settlements in the West Bank. The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan–the legal order that divided the land shared by Israel and Palestine–declared that the historic city of Jerusalem is a shared capital, belonging to both Israel and Palestine.
It is well known that the “peace process” between Israel and Palestine has been repeatedly forestalled by a myriad of factors. Palestinians claim that the only obstacle to a new wave of peace negotiations is the Israeli settlement of the West Bank. Israel will only discuss peace if there are no pre-conditions to negotiations; however, amid the most recent criticism of the Israeli settlements by Israel’s greatest allies, that position may be losing whatever popularity it has enjoyed in the past. So, I ask you: Do you think that the recent criticism of Israel by its greatest allies will have any practical effect on the peace process between Israel and Palestine? How does the newly gained Palestinian statehood status weigh in the equation?
Article Sources: New York Times, UN.org
Photo Source: nowtheendbegins.com
This recent criticism will seem to strengthen Palestine’s negotiating power with Israel although alone it is negligible. The equivalent of a negative reputation will not seem to do much in changing Israel’s stance unless there are negative economic consequences. Israel receives about 3 billion dollars a year from the U.S. in defense grants. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/08/us-israel-usa-hagel-idUSBRE90706R20130108). The U.S. criticism would have to go further into economic sanctions in order to have any real effect. The U.S. has a number of ways in which it could cripple the economy and defense of Israel but for obvious reasons has chosen not to.
With the Palestine statehood issue, the effects of even an investigation by the ICC would have more negative diplomatic consequences rather than actual legal concerns. (http://972mag.com/what-palestinian-statehood-means-for-iccs-jurisdiction-over-israeli-crimes/61027/). With that said, Palestine is negotiating with Israel, not any other country. Annoying the person you are negotiating with is not always a good tactic. I believe however, that the loss of diplomacy with Israel due to the progression to statehood is outweighed tremendously by the benefits this path would bring Palestine. Perhaps one day even becoming a full member of the United Nations.