With the announcement that Donald Trump’s choice of US ambassador to Israel is a hawkish Zionist, the campaign to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is already in full swing. As is usual these days, British neocons and pro-Israel cheerleaders are jumping on the bandwagon and suggesting that not only should Britain follow suit but also that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth should fly to Jerusalem to open the new embassy “in Israel’s capital”.
The pro-Israel lobbyists are already missing the point, but then the latest jargon of “post-truth” – what Jonathan Freedland very rightly calls “lies” in the Guardian – is par for the course for them. Lying has always been Israel’s way of getting on in the world.
Sadly, even the mainstream media is in on the act. It is unbelievable that the Independent’s Jon Sharman couldn’t take the time to discover the real reason why no country has an embassy in Jerusalem – according to international law, Israel’s annexation of the city in 1980 is illegal – and chose instead to claim that “the US embassy is in Tel Aviv because of diplomatic reasons relating to Jerusalem’s significance in all three major Abrahamic faiths…” Fiction passed off as serious journalism.
Israel, of course, is infamous for ignoring UN resolutions and, indeed, international law itself, and so ignores everything said about Jerusalem being occupied territory; it claims that there is an “inbuilt bias” at the UN and has been dependent on the US veto in the Security Council to protect it from censure.
There is one resolution, though, which pro-Israel lobbyists use to “prove” the state’s “legitimacy”; it was, in fact, mentioned in Israel’s “Declaration of Independence” on 14 May 1948: “On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Resolution requiring the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine…”
This reference to Resolution 181 is interesting, not least because it meant that the name of Palestine remains an integral part of Israel’s founding document; so much for those pro-Israel apologists who insist that there never was such a place. In its partition plan, the UN set out the conditions for the establishment of “Independent Arab and Jewish States” as well as a “Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem”; the city was never intended by UN Resolution 181 – which is used by Israel and its lobbyists to affirm the state’s international legitimacy, remember – to be part of the “Jewish State” or, indeed, of the proposed “Arab State”. It was supposed to be an internationally-run “corpus separatum” with special legal and political status.
For the past 70 years, Israel has thus played out a huge lie – it occupied “West” Jerusalem in 1948 – and since occupying the rest of the city in 1967 has succeeded in conning the rest of the world into accepting that Jerusalem is its “undivided capital”; Western nations and their governments have played along with this, while maintaining the diplomatic nicety of keeping their embassies firmly in Tel Aviv, albeit with consular presence in the Holy City. Such duplicity hasn’t stopped its apologists from claiming frequently that Israel is a “beacon of Western values in a sea of tyranny and despotism”, as Michael Gove did in the Times last week; this actually tells us more about the hypocrisy of those values than it does about Israel’s critics, whom the British MP and former secretary of state was targeting with his pro-Israel propaganda.
Western capitals continue to provide diplomatic, military, political and economic support to Israel despite its appalling human rights record and contempt for international law. They even ignore the fact that Israel’s membership of the UN was conditional upon it allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, something that successive governments in Tel Aviv have refused to sanction.
The West also supports anything and anyone likely to help Israel achieve its objective of the total colonisation of all of Palestine; backing for the dead-in-the-water two-state solution is a smokescreen. Twenty years of pointless “negotiations” have simply provided Israel with more time to build its illegal colony-settlements across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. The Palestinians have gained nothing from this process, apart from a corrupt Palestinian Authority which has anything but authority over the land it is supposed to govern.
The corrupt nature of the PA has now been admitted tacitly by the British government in a press statement about foreign aid. “The UK has confirmed that it will continue to provide funding to the Palestinian Authority with certain changes,” the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced last week. “[It] will continue to provide funding to the Palestinian Authority in order to maintain stability, provide vital services and build and strengthen the institutions needed for a viable two-state solution.”
“However, certain key changes will be made to ensure this funding delivers the best value for money and maximum impact for Palestinians.”
In other words, Britain will no longer put money into the pockets of corrupt PA officials. It has been an open secret for decades that the PA is corrupt and that aid money disappears, but Britain, like other Western states, has had to play the game and support an entity which exists solely to collaborate with and provide “security coordination” for Israel. Nevertheless, if the government’s “change” in policy means that more ordinary Palestinians will benefit from the UK’s £25 million worth of aid – and their corrupt overlords lose out – it will be a good thing.
Old habits die hard, though, and in its “Notes to editors”, the press statement pointed out that the British government “remains committed to supporting the needs of Gaza while ensuring maximum impact and best value for money to the UK taxpayer.” So far so good; Gaza has been starved of support of all kinds under the Israeli-led blockade. The civil servants who drafted this note then claimed that “some Gaza public servants employed by the Palestinian Authority have not been able to work since Hamas took control of the Gaza strip” and “given this, the UK Government has now decided that it will no longer pay the salaries of Gaza public servants, on value for money grounds…”
Instead of implying that Hamas had prevented the said employees from working, the British government could have pointed out that the public servants in Gaza employed by the PA in Ramallah – controlled by Fatah, supported by the West – were, in fact, ordered not to go into work by the authority which has been funded and supported by Britain and the West. This was the same tactic employed by the “deep state” in Egypt to cripple the short-lived government of Mohamed Morsi; it was a blatant attempt by Fatah to prevent Hamas from being able to run government departments, despite its 2006 election victory. The civil servants in Westminster must have known about this, but have played their part dutifully in the boycott of the legitimate Palestinian government.
Post-truth and lies have indeed been Israel’s way since the very beginning of the state, but it has been aided and abetted in its deceptions by its allies in Washington, London, Paris and the rest. We’d better get used to it, because 2017 is a milestone anniversary not only of the infamous Balfour Declaration but also the aforementioned UN Partition Plan, the military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of the Gaza Strip. More lies are undoubtedly being prepared, starting with the Zionist myths about Jerusalem. When a former minister of the Crown in Westminster feels emboldened enough to be so economical with the truth, as Gove certainly was, then we should all be worried about the state of the democracy that he claims to champion.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.