An Ill Wind: Diplomatic Moves to Push Israel into Isolation
Commentary by Sarah Ann Haves
Several decisions by European countries and the EU have resulted in an attempt to isolate the Jewish State, internationalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and impose a solution on Israel.
Recent actions by European leaders to recognize a Palestinian State have undermined efforts to re-start peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. These decisions are hurting rather than helping the peace process move forward. The more politicians and diplomats talk about recognizing “Palestine” the greater the trend will be for Europeans to pressure their governments into approving Palestinian unilateralism.
Persistent and determined to be successful on the diplomatic front, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has relentlessly called on the international community to approve a Palestinian state through international consensus and United Nations support, hoping to by-pass any attempts at a peace agreement through direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This also means Abbas will not have to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, while at the same time, receive the recognition he wants from the global community for a Palestinian state. This is also an effort to weaken Israel’s place among the nations as a free and democratic country. Public accusations are growing and becoming main stream that Israel is an occupier of Palestinian land.
Israeli politicians continue to defend their position that it is only through direct negotiations that a Palestinian state can be established alongside Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently declared that the Palestinians have been the main obstacle to peace, preventing an Israeli-Palestinian agreement for the past 20 years.
While that defense is falling on deaf ears in Europe, few in Israel’s government are declaring the Jewish right to the land both historically and biblically. It is rare for Israeli politicians to enter into a public discourse that takes issue with a false Palestinian narrative that has been exploited, worldwide. That narrative makes Israel look like it is stealing Palestinian land through Israeli building construction in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem – all areas that Jews, worldwide, have a strong connection to for thousands of years. It is time for the Netanyahu government to review its public policy and take a clear stand on the rights that the Jewish People have to their own homeland in the Jewish State of Israel.
Recently, during the International Christian Embassy’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem, World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder said he believed Israel was falling behind in the battle over its image abroad. In a Jerusalem Post interview during the Feast, Lauder encouraged Israeli leaders to spend more money on public relations, and invest in greater “hasbara” (public diplomacy).
While Israel seems to be losing the diplomatic battle for recognition as the Jewish State in the region, and for its right to build in its homeland, European leaders continue to express their frustration with the stalled peace talks. And, European politicians would rather focus on the upset of the Gaza War than deal with terrorist advances in Syria and Iraq. They are challenging the status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It gives them greater influence in Middle East diplomacy, but puts them at odds with Israel.
Recently, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven declared his intent to lead his government into unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state. Politicians in Sweden said Lofven may have violated the law because the Prime Minister is supposed to secure an agreement on foreign policy decisions with the Swedish Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs before declaring his intentions.
After public protests by Swedish and Israeli government leaders, Lofven watered down his recognition statement. Regardless, it has exposed the anti-Israel stance of Sweden’s leading politician, and revealed the struggle in Sweden’s Social Democratic Party to define its policies towards Israel.
On the heels of Lofven’s declaration, the British House of Commons voted 274-12 to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state in a non-binding resolution. One of the reasons that U.K.’s Labor Party decided to go ahead and carry out the vote was to curry favor among Britain’s three million Muslims before Britain’s next major election. Muslims in the U.K. greatly outnumber the approximately 280,000 potential voters among Britain’s Jews. The political power of Britain’s Jewish Community is limited to small concentrated areas in the country. The Muslims have gained considerable political advances in local towns and cities throughout the U.K. As a result, though Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister David Cameron has remained a friend of Israel’s, there’s been a gradual pro-Palestinian shift within the British House of Commons. Furthermore, the Jewish Community failed to understand that there was not enough of a lobbying effort on their part to constrain Britain’s Labor Party politicians from bringing the Palestinian issue to a vote.
The British vote could have economic, political and legal repercussions for Israel in the future as other European countries consider following Britain’s lead.
Along with the U.K., the European Union (EU) recently condemned Israel’s plans to move forward with building construction of homes in southern Jerusalem, and parliamentary leaders were angry at Netanyahu’s government for allowing Jews to move into housing in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods. The EU called on Israel to reverse its decision and end its settlement policy in east Jerusalem. What Europeans do not understand is that Israel does not conduct a settlement policy in Jerusalem, but allows for the expansion of natural growth in Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Furthermore, Israeli Jews see EU demands as a blatant attempt to try and deny them the viable housing they need to raise their families and work in their capital city.
Currently the EU is stepping up efforts to hurt Israel economically, reviewing trade sanctions against the Jewish State, including plans to ban dairy products from settlements in Judea and Samaria as early as January 2015.
Until now, there has been a policy in the U.S. and among most European countries to support negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as the way towards a peaceful settlement, and not to change the status quo by favoring one side over the other. But, these recent worrying developments are upsetting the delicate diplomatic balance as Europeans get more and more frustrated in not seeing an end to the conflict.
Political sentiment towards Israel is deteriorating, as evident in both the non-binding vote in the British House of Commons and in the Swedish Prime Minister’s declaration in support of a Palestinian State. European leaders are blaming Israel for the failure of the peace process and for Israel’s insistence on continued building construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. This negative trend in Europe reinforces the belief among Palestinians that they can force Israel to surrender to their demands by getting the world to impose a solution on the Jewish State.
Recently, the Vatican got into the political fray by announcing that continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would cause instability in the region and even have consequences for Christians in neighboring countries. It is a common fallacy that the lack of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is what is causing chaos in the Middle East. There is little global recognition that regional unrest initially broke-out because of the policies of intransient Arab leaders who failed to successfully govern their nations both politically and economically, resulting in social unrest. The downfall of these leaders created a vacuum that was filled by radical Islamic militants, influenced by terrorist states, all of whom want to dominate the region. The jihadists are engaged in ethnic cleansing, including mass murders of Christians. This has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite an attempt by the Vatican to politically link these issues.
Russia plans to
UN leader, Ban Ki-Moon recently visited Israel and the Gaza Strip. He said that the root cause of the war in Gaza was a restrictive occupation, blaming Israeli for the recent violence and instability. Netanyahu countered Ban’s attack by declaring that Israel was not an occupying power of Gaza, because the Israeli government unilaterally withdrew all Jews from there in 2005. Furthermore, Netanyahu countered that the cause of the conflict was Hamas rockets and mortars launched at Jewish communities, affecting the lives of millions of Israeli citizens.
This increased back lash against Israel with false accusations is causing a global domino effect that is further isolating Israel among the nations. Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov recently announced that his country plans to approve a Palestinian United Nations Security Council resolution that sets a deadline for a two-state solution by November 2016. This includes a demand for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and east Jerusalem.
Netanyahu’s government needs to come up with a new strategy to silence the European agitators, and stop the negative trend by the international community to publicly side with the Palestinians. In his recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu alluded to the fact that Israel wants to begin a process with its Arab neighbors to forge a comprehensive peace deal; something that would go beyond negotiations with the Palestinians and, therefore, break the stalemate.
It is not clear what Netanyahu’s strategy is at the moment, but time is running out. As the cold winds of winter blow in, it is hopeful that both he and Foreign Minister Lieberman will come up with a plan which will neutralize the destructive intentions of European leaders. It needs to be a plan that interests moderate Arab states, while at the same time, stops Europe’s hurtful diplomatic actions towards Israel.
Genesis 12:1-3: “Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation. And I will bless you, and make your name great. And so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
(c) 2014 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.