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What is Israel counting on?

June 28, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Abdülhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

By following most of the analyses that appeared in the Israeli media outlets regarding what has become known as the “deal of the century”, we can conclude that Israel is counting on, more than anything else, the series of global and regional developments that, upon reading, can be pushed forward. This is what Israel failed to do in the past, when concepts, similar in essence, were proposed, such as “economic peace” for example. Most of these analysts believe that the deal of the century is tantamount to an end of a phase and the beginning of another.

The phase that they have relied on to end is characterised by a “love story” between three parties, i.e. the Palestinians, the former US administration headed by Barack Obama, and the European Union represented by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. According to one analysis, this “love story” allowed the Palestinians to dream of mountains and plains of positive expectations, at the expense of Israel, and caused them to “tighten their positions”. At the same time, this “inflexibility” fuelled decisions condemning the occupation in the United Nations and its various institutions, culminating in UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 2016, which prohibited Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

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However, the new phase that has started is characterised by the following: first, the presence of a president who is absolutely supportive of Israel in the White House, in addition to the presence of an American representative in the United Nations no less supportive of the occupation. Second, it is characterised by an accumulation of several developments in EU countries that lead to a relaxation of the pressure exerted on Israel, the most prominent of which is the economic crisis. Thirdly, the old, renewed belief within a number of Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, that the Iranian Shia threat is what should be worrying them has prompted them to see Israel and the US as strategic partners that can remove the spectre of this nightmare. However, Israeli policy does not traditionally, solely rely on regional and global transformations, but accompanies this with its imposition of facts on the ground, primarily through the settlement tool.

According to the latest reports issued by human rights organisations in this regard, since the ratification of the Security Council resolution, Israel has published tenders for more than 5,300 settlement units, for various purposes, including residential, commercial and services. All of them further establish Israeli settlement in the territories occupied since 1967, and violate international conventions and resolutions, according to a recent report submitted by Adalah to the Security Council.

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On 17 June, a new Israeli military order (number 1797) was put into effect and it prohibits Palestinians from objecting to any demolition orders issued by the Civil Administration (the occupation’s governing body in the 1967 territories) against new buildings. According to B’Tselem, this means Israel can now demolish Palestinian homes immediately. The organisation states that despite the fact that Palestinian objections to the demolitions were no more than a formality, this was an essential part of the occupation’s system and Israel was keen to preserve it. Consequently, its willingness now to abandon even its appearances indicates its efforts to pick up the pace and scope of the stealing of Palestinian land throughout the West Bank and demonstrates its confidence that it will not have to shoulder the consequences of its severe breaches, neither at the local nor international level. We can categorise this as part of what it is counting on in the new phase, signifying that this new phase has indeed begun.

On the Israeli domestic level, we must reiterate that the new phase is characterised by the same characteristic of the previous phase, i.e. the lack of a fundamental opposition against the rule of Benjamin Netanyahu that is able to remove him from office. Instead this opposition is being driven by the approach he has imposed for years, especially regarding the Palestinian cause and the Iranian issue.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.