Two items caught my eye in the news this past week:
First, the Globe and Mail reports that “In a striking rupture with past practice, the United States allowed the U.N. Security Council on Friday to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law. In doing so, the outgoing Obama administration brushed aside Donald Trump’s demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel’s leadership … [and] … The decision to abstain from the council’s 14-0 vote is one of the biggest American rebukes of its longstanding ally in recent memory. And it could have significant ramifications for the Jewish state, potentially hindering Israel’s negotiating position in future peace talks. Given the world’s widespread opposition to settlements, the action will be almost impossible for anyone, including Trump, to reverse.“
“In some ways,” the Globe and Mail explains, “the American abstention served as a direct reflection of the deep distrust between Obama and Netanyahu. It followed months of intensely secret deliberations in Washington, including what one official said was an unannounced meeting earlier this month between Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, and a spate of fresh Israeli settlement announcements that have wrought exasperation and anger from American officials … [but] … Trump has signalled he will be far more sympathetic to Israel’s stances on the two territories, where some 600,000 Israelis live. His campaign platform made no mention of the establishment of a Palestinian state, a core policy objective of Democratic and Republican presidents over the past two decades. He also has vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would anger Palestinians and lack international support. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, Jewish-American lawyer David Friedman, is a donor and vocal supporter of the settlements.“
I think the first explanation ~ deep distrust ~ is right and I also suspect it reflects President Obama’s personal distaste for prime Minister Netanyahu and it gives him (Obama) a chance to be mean, petty and vindictive and slap the very popular Netanyahu in a way that will be hard for Trump to undo.
The second item is from the CBC News‘ Middle East correspondent Derek Stoffel and he explains how Israel is, quietly, treating the wounded from the Syrian civil war. Mr Stoffel reports that ““As a result of the civil war, the IDF maintains a humanitarian effort guided by sanctity of human life,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman with the Israel Defence Forces, in a statement … [and] … “The humanitarian efforts are focused in providing medical aid to the Syrians in need. When our forces see men, women and children in need, they see it as their moral obligation and professional responsibility to lend a helping hand” … [and] … In addition to protecting Israeli communities in the Golan from attacks from the Syrian side, Israel’s army is also given the task of transporting the wounded from Syria to several hospitals in Israel.“
Israel is neither blameless nor totally to blame for the chaos in Palestine. However, most of whatever blame is to be passed around must go to generations of stupid, hate filled, corrupt and inept Arab, Iranian and Palestinian leaders who, since the 1940s, have used and abused the Palestinian people as they try to push Israel out of the Middle East. Israel is far from perfect but its leaders have, always, been chosen in free and fair elections and its policies have, generally, been defensive and, more or less, defensible.
The proposed “two state” solution has been problematical from Day 1. In my opinion Israel needs better, more defensible borders and neighbours it can trust. To secure the first I expect that, eventually, Israel will annex more and more and more of the West Bank to include everything within the red lines on this map. I suspect that the only “good” solution is to divide the West Bank between Israel (everything on the Israeli side of the red line and Jordan. I know the Palestinians and many other Arabs will not accept that solution but King Abdullah is just about the only trustworthy, responsible, honest and peace-seeking leader in the entire region and America and its allies should support him. The Gaza Strip should be handed over to Egypt. It is a highly imperfect solution but it is better than anything that Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush or Barak Obama have offered.
Israel, imperfect though it may be, is a liberal democratic society alone in a sea of tyrannies and worse. It deserved better from President Obama; it deserves better from Canada, too.
The Arabs, the Iranians and the Palestinian “leaders” have misused and abused the long suffering Palestinian people for too long. We, in the US led West, should act to “free” the Palestinians by making them Jordanians and then supporting them and the other Jordanians as they work out a peaceful internal system of government.