Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Updates From The Epicenter: The Aftermath; Things To Come

[My comments in brackets. It's just impossible to resist this time]

It was no secret that the international community was keeping its fingers crossed, praying for a change to a more dovish government in Israel [in order for Israel to return to defenseless borders, so their destruction would be ensured]. Now that these hopes were crushed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resounding victory Tuesday, some fear that Europe and the United States will increase pressure [attempt to force] on Israel over the stalled peace process [which has stalled because the 'Palestinians' refuse to accept that Israel has a right to exist] with the Palestinians.

There’s certainly cause for concern [Israel may be on the map a while longer]. The European Union has long threatened to punish Israel for what it perceives as foot-dragging [because they refuse to allow for their destruction], as well as over ongoing settlement construction which is considered an obstacle to peace [because after all we know from Orwell's "1984" that "War = Peace"]. Neither is US President Barack Obama much of a fan of Netanyahu, especially since the latter’s Congress speech earlier this month, in which he ferociously attacked the administration’s policy on Iran [in his effort to survive as a nation, how dare him].

How the international community will react to Israel’s 33rd government will, of course, depend to a large degree on its makeup and the policies it pursues [according to biblical prophecy, all of the nations will turn against Israel].

If Netanyahu opts for a narrow right-wing coalition including his Likud party, Jewish Home, Yisrael Beytenu, Kulanu and the ultra-Orthodox lists — as most observers predict — world leaders will look toward Jerusalem with concern and skepticism [because they refuse to divide a holy city which God expressly warned against]. As soon as they start sensing that the new Netanyahu government acts as intransigently as the last one, or even more so, they will likely turn up the heat on Jerusalem [after all, who cares what God has to say on the topic?].

Netanyahu’s assertion that no Palestinian state would come into being on his watch, in an interview on Monday, has already raised consternation in Washington [indeed].

And yet, the sky won’t fall. While increased pressure on Israel to move toward resuming negotiations and implementing a two-state solution is a given, Israel is not about to become a pariah state, or even be subject to severe punitive measures, as several Israeli officials and analysts have indicated.

“It’s clear that it won’t be easy, but I don’t know how bad it will really be,” a senior Israeli diplomatic official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Officials in Jerusalem identify the EU as the main potential source of diplomatic trouble in the months and years ahead [isn't that interesting?] Brussels adopted a carrots-and-sticks approach to the peace process: If a final-status agreement is signed, both Israelis and Palestinians stand to gain special membership status at the Union. If the two sides do not make progress, however, some sort of sanctions will soon be on their way, EU officials have indicated time and again [in other words, Israel must make themselves defenseless and vulnerable or they will be punished, after all, we know from Gaza that "land for peace" works every time and will ensure full peace in the region and the safety of Israel].

Also on Wednesday, the EU’s foreign policy czar, Federica Mogherini, said she was committed to working with the incoming Israeli government on the resumption of the peace process. “More than ever, bold leadership is required from all to reach a comprehensive, stable and viable settlement.”

In private conversations, European officials are less politically correct, admitting their apprehension at the prospect of trying to advance a two-state solution as long as Netanyahu is in power, especially if he assembles a coalition of partners to whom territorial concessions are anathema.

Even Jerusalem’s closest friends in the EU — Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands — would be hard pressed to defend Israel against efforts from others in the Union to turn the heat up on another Netanyahu government, they say. Governments usually supportive of Israel will be “empty-handed” in seeking to deflect such pressure if a right-wing government comes into power and prevents any progress on the peace talks, a senior European official told The Times of Israel recently.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned that Britain and Germany had been holding back the European Union from taking a tougher stance with Israel and expressed concern for the prospects of a two-state solution.

Hammond made the comments before a question and answer session at the Hendon United Synagogue in London on Tuesday, as Israel held national elections, the Jewish News reported.

Britain, he said was willing to work with whichever government resulted from the elections but made it clear that the international community expects the next Israeli leadership to work towards a peace deal.

Hammond was speaking before the publication of results from the election that saw a resounding victory for Netanyahu and his Likud party. Netanyahu had caused alarm the day before the election when he declared that there would not agree to recognize a Palestinian state during a future term in office, a move Hammond painted as “in the context of a man who is behind in the polls”.
“If he leads the next government, we would expect him to recommit to a constructive engagement around the principle of a two-state solution,” he said. “We would expect that but the United States would expect that – and that’s an influence no Israel prime minister can afford to ignore.”

The State Department said Wednesday that the US would “evaluate” its approach to the two-state solution in light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood during his campaign for reelection.

En route to his decisive surprise victory in Tuesday’s vote, Netanyahu said Monday that he would not facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state so long as he remained in power, a statement that appeared to disavow sentiments he expressed in a seminal 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University.

“Based on the prime minister’s comments, the US is in a position going forward in which we will be evaluating our approach with regards to how best to achieve a two-state solution,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during her press briefing.

Although she asserted that the US still prefers direct negotiations toward an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, she did not promise that the US would continue to defend Israel against unilateral actions in support of Palestinian statehood in either the International Criminal Court or the United Nations.

“We are not going to get ahead of any decisions with regard to what the US would do during any vote at the United Nations Security Council,” Psaki warned, leaving open the possibility that the US could amend its long-held policy of using its Security Council veto power to block anti-Israel resolutions.

In addition to attempting to prosecute Israel for war crimes in the ICC, the Palestinian Authority has already tried once to pass a Security Council resolution that would unilaterally establish a Palestinian state. That vote failed even without the US veto.

President Barack Obama has yet to call Netanyahu, with whom he has butted heads repeatedly in the past six years, to offer similar congratulations. But White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that “the president in the coming days will also call Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
Earnest denied that the president was dragging his feet, saying that the US leader traditionally waited for his congratulatory call until the leading candidate was tasked by the president with forming a coalition — a formality that is expected to be resolved in the coming days.
Earnest emphasized that “it continues to be the view of the president that a two-state solution is the best way to address those tensions” between Israel and the Palestinians.
“In the context of the recent election, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated a change in his position, based on those comments the United States will evaluate our approach to the situation,” he added, echoing Psaki’s comments.
Earnest also expressed consternation over Netanyahu’s much-criticized Election Day rallying cry, in which the prime minister warned right-wing Israelis that Arabs were “coming in droves” to the polls.
“The United States and this administration is deeply concerned by decisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” Earnest said. “It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together.”

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