Last Thursday, the airwaves were abuzz with the news that the Palestinian Authority had been granted ‘Observer State’ status at the U.N. General Assembly. The events that occurred during the following days paint a very bleak but very accurate picture of the dynamics of modern international relations, as Israel prepares to escalate its brutal treatment of the Palestinian civilian population with the building of 3,000 more settlements in the West Bank, while the world’s ‘great powers’ not only look on, but continue to arm and support Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government.
These so-called ‘settlements’ involve the invasion of Palestinian lands, the seizure and destruction of Palestinian property, and the subsequent building of homes where only Israelis are permitted to live. Furthermore, in order to rob the Palestinians of whatever dignity they have left, only Israelis will be allowed to use the roads that are built in these settlements.
These Palestinians, who will first be forcibly ousted from their homes, will be forced to walk in the dirt, past the rubble where their homes and schools once stood. All of these actions are, of course, in direct contravention with international law, as well as numerous UN Resolutions. But, of course, this utter humiliation and suppression of the Palestinian people is nothing new, and the powers of the world will barely bat an eyelid, as more and more Palestinians are faced with this unimaginable, inhumane treatment.
“These activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”: These were the laughably weak words of warning that came from Hillary Clinton following Israel’s announcement. On first hearing, you might be tempted to applaud Clinton for discouraging Israel, but in reality the words are so empty that they only serve to rub salt into the deep wounds of the Palestinians. Many Democratic voters in the US support the Palestinian cause, and it was one of Barack Obama’s key foreign policy issues during his first Presidential campaign.
Naturally, the voters need to be kept happy, so Clinton will make her statement, there might even be a little posturing back and forth, the American public will eventually become concerned with another topical issue, Israel will go ahead with these illegal settlements, and the leading Westerns powers will continue to pump money and arms into the Israeli army. For Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the message is clear: Do whatever you want; continue to oppress and dehumanise the Palestinian people, keep defying international law, and you will continue to be rewarded with billions in military aid. The pattern has been followed for decades.
However, it is not just the US that couples empty words of discouragement with continued military assistance to Israel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also stated that she was “extremely concerned” by the Israeli statement, and that response came in the context of recent controversy in Germany regarding revelations that the German government had sold a shipment of Nuclear-capable submarines to Israel. Britain, too, had harsh words for the Israelis, but yet, still continues its near-constant flow of military trade with Jerusalem.
We have to ask ourselves, why is it that Israel continues to be the number one benefactor of US Aid (receiving roughly $3 billion per year), despite being a very wealthy state, as well as benefiting from huge arms deals with European countries? Why is it that Israel is repeatedly permitted, even encouraged, to contravene international law and UN Resolutions? Why is it that European countries, despite all their words of support, will not act in order to prevent the grotesque human rights abuses suffered by the Palestinian people?
In reality, the answers to these questions are simpler and more disturbing than one may at first think. The “negotiated peace” alluded to by Hillary Clinton can only be achieved by some form of two-state settlement, involving recognition of the sovereign rights of the Palestinian people. We already know that this is not what the Israeli Government wants; that much is clear. The United States claims, in words, that it wants peace in the region, but their consistent actions paint a very different picture; the exact opposite, in fact. Any moves towards a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been consistently blocked by the USA via its veto power at the U.N. Security Council. What might come as more of a shock is that this trend has been completely unaffected by whether there is a Democratic or Republican President in power.
If we are to accept that the US does not favour a negotiated two-state solution in the region, we then must look at the reasons why. As Israel maintains its status of being constantly at war and under threat from Hamas and other neighbours, it logically follows that it needs to be very heavily armed. With the Israeli military being funded to such an extent by the United States, it follows naturally that the US can expect a certain degree of ‘loyalty’, or arguably, ‘control’ with regard to Israeli military and foreign policy in the Middle-East. Quite simply, from a US perspective, having an Israeli state that is armed to the teeth and wielding a significant nuclear capability means more US neo-colonial power in the entire region. These are necessary tools in maintaining the system of global influence that reinforces the United States’ status of being the world’s only super-power.
In short, this constant state of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the consequent suffering of those on both sides of the struggle, directly benefits US foreign policy objectives. Maintaining this system of global influence comes directly at the expense of the Palestinian people, as well as many Israeli civilians. Hopefully, Palestine’s new UN status will lead to a brighter future in the long term, but for now, it would appear that the world will keep watching as Israeli apartheid is further entrenched and the rights of the Palestinian people are even more trampled upon.