British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s op-ed for YNet news reflects all that is wrong with speaking out against annexation “as Israel’s friend”. Israel has diplomatic allegiances and acquaintances; “friendship” is the euphemism used to make colonialism and collaboration endearing to the undiscerning.
It is no surprise that Johnson’s op-ed drew upon privileged personal experiences as opposed to British colonial involvement in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration of November 1917 was depicted in full to complement Johnson’s ramblings, a blatant assertion that reminds Britain of the role it played in facilitating the Zionist colonisation of Palestine. Indeed, Johnson pointed out that he is “immensely proud of the UK’s contribution to the birth of Israel with the 1917 Balfour Declaration.”
It is therefore hypocritical for the British PM to state that the UK will not recognise any changes to the 1967 borders, as if having pride in the Balfour Declaration will influences British-Israeli diplomacy. Like the rest of the international community, Britain will not do anything other than condemn the formalisation of historical colonial land theft. In this regard, the UN has set a prime example in passing off rhetorical condemnations as adequate political action. There is no incentive for the UK or any other country in the world to go beyond superficial opposition to Israel’s actions. Months after the first Israeli public declaration about annexing over 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank, the international community is still debating how to retain its diplomatic edge over the US through the two-state compromise. At the same time, the international community has not completely ruled out collaborating on the Trump administration’s so-called deal of the century.
Johnson’s writing added nothing of value for Israel; its impunity derived from international acceptance of its colonial project is sufficient. However, the British Prime Minister was clearly exposing how the UK, and the international community, employ the narrative of being “a passionate defender of Israel” to legitimise the complacency shown towards violations of international law. Johnson has not followed Israel’s political plans to annex the occupied West Bank “with sadness”, as he claimed. Like other world leaders, he has followed the new phase of Israeli colonisation as a de facto next step in the process that they have all facilitated and condoned.
Israel is not placing itself in jeopardy, as Johnson and other “defenders of Israel” claim. The US has committed itself to ensuring that Israel retains the best military and logistics in the region, and it contributes billions of dollars for Israeli hegemony to thrive. Annexation will not come at any cost for the occupation state, and the international community would do well to stop propagating this misinformation, especially not when normalised relations with Arab and Gulf states have been accomplished, after decades of Arab leaders betraying the Palestinians’ anti-colonial resistance.
Israel’s friends are no friends to the Palestinian people. While politicians such as Johnson and US President Donald Trump might stand out due to their statements, the fact that “friends of Israel” navigate international political platforms without opposition must be pointed out, in particular as Israel formalises colonialism and the Palestinian Authority, once again, begs for negotiations in which Palestinians are perpetually disadvantaged. Let us not forget that it will be Israel’s diplomatic allies who are calculating the future best trajectories towards yet more loss of Palestinian territory.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.