Mar 30 2015

Deconstructing Netnayhau

Published by at 10:37 am under Articles,Palestinian politics


By Daoud Kuttab

Pundits are wondering why two statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the Israeli elections and on the day of the elections drew so much attention.

After the elections, Republican leader and former presidential contender John McCaintold US president Barack Obama to “get over your temper tantrum.”

For Israel supporters like McCain, Netanyahu’s statements are merely election rhetoric that can easily be resolved and even erased.

In fact, Netanyahu already slightly backtracked from his pre-election opposition to the two-state solution and also technically apologized to Israel’s Arab citizens.

So some might wonder why the big fuss over these two statements. Well, to understand the depth of the problems caused by these two statements, it is important to understand the two basic components of the world (i.e., US) policy towards Israel.

Washington and many European countries consider Israel a democratic country that fairly and honestly represents all its citizens, and not just the Jewish population.

If the US and other Western countries reached the conclusion that Israel is undemocratic and a religious state, they could not have given it the kind of support (financial, political and military) they have.

Based on this assumption that Israel is a democratic state representing all of its citizens, the world always takes the side of Israel in justifying its decades-old occupation.

Israelis have fooled the world for so long saying that they want peace and a civil end to the occupation, but it is somehow those barbaric terrorist Palestinians who refuse to deal honestly with Israel.

When the issue was further pressed on Israel as to what kind of a solution it is willing to accept, Netanyahu reluctantly accepted the idea of a two-state solution, putting two conditions on such a state in order for benevolent Israel to accept.

But as US-sponsored talks began and ended without a solution, Washington started to question Israel’s commitment. Secretary of State John Kerry publicly blamed Israelfor making peace talks fail because of its settlement expansion and reneging on the promise to release prisoners.

Yet the US continues to give Israel the benefit of the doubt and to believe that, somehow, the normal cycle of democracy will resolve this problem. Americans really believed that the Israeli public, like any other democracy, will make the needed adjustments at the polls when the time comes to decide whether they want peace or not.

The US had good reason to think that way. In the past, Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu in the first term, were ousted by the public in similar circumstances. The Americans believe that the Israelis would take into consideration their relationship with Washington when they go to the polls. After all, no other ally in the world has stood by Israel and protected Israeli policy more than Washington.

The two statements by Netanyahu, therefore, must have come as a disappointment for some. All of a sudden, the Americans were faced with the reality that Israel is a democracy only for Jewish citizens. When the non-Jewish citizen, i.e., Palestinian Arab citizens, united in one bloc and attempted to properly use their legal right to vote, Netanyahu and company got upset and showed where they really stood on the issues of democracy as a mechanism working to the benefit of the people.

The United States does not need to change its policy. It simply needs to honour its own commitments and hold all countries, including Israel, accountable. The idea that Israel and the US have shared values in terms of democracy and the right to self-determination proved fake. The truth is coming out and Netanyahu’s attempts to correct his errors will do little to change what the world has now finally come to understand, namely that Israel is neither a democracy nor that its five-decades old occupation of four million Palestinians is the fault of the occupied rather than the occupier.

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