THE BLOG

Israel Traps Itself: How Netanyahu's Israel is Less Safe

The right wing Israeli government is in bad shape right now. At least that's what a close look at the political arena reveals.

At this moment, most countries in the European Union are not too fond of Israel's policies nor the country's leadership, for that matter. The United States is not happy either: the Obama administration does not want another distraction right now and the State Department has had harsh words for Israel's wild settlement policies. The UK just issued an arrest warrant Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister. And Arab states that signed peace treaties with Israel constantly criticize their lack of commitment to peace and their open appetite for grabbing yet more land from the Palestinians, endangering the very essence of the two-state solution. The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, isn't looking too great right now, either, even though it seems to be empowered by support from the international community. But back to Israel, here is what Netanyahu's genius brought upon Israel:

1. He has publicly supported Israeli settlers and invited the military establishment to back their confiscation of more land from Palestinian farmers in the West Bank, uprooting trees to build residential homes for a segment society that not many Israelis would like to have as neighbors. Because of the free hand given to the settlers, Israeli society is for the first time worried about civil war if the heavily-armed settlers were ordered to evacuate the illegal settlements. You see, the more land settlers confiscate from Palestinians, the farther we are from a two-state solution and the closer we are to a one-state solution. A Palestinian friend who believes in a one-state solution once told me, "Let the Israelis build settlements. At the end of the day, it is infrastructure that the Palestinians do not have to pay for"

2. The Israeli government has systematically ignored President Mahmood Abbas' calls for resuming negotiation for years now. Fed up with empty promises and aggressive settlement building, President Abbas declared he will not seek office again. It is Israel's negligence and humiliation that lead the Palestinian president to that conclusion. Thanks to Israel's lack of action in negotiating, Hamas is once more politically viable. Obviously, the absence tangible outcome from 16 years of negotiation gives Hamas ammunition.

3. The Israeli government refuses to talk to the Palestinians and rejects calls to negotiate final status issues. Israel not being interested in resuming negotiation, President Abbas, an ally of the US and a friend of the EU as well as "moderate" Arab states demanded from the UN and the international community that they meet their obligation and give him a state. Realizing the significance of Abbas' political maneuvering, suddenly Netanyahu wants to talk. But because of his continuous quest to build new settlements, Abbas has turned to fixing his own party instead.

4. In addition to demolishing Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, Israel is now meddling in religious sites in the holy city; century-old Christian and Muslim sites have both suffered equally. These unilateral policies have prompted King Abdullah of Jordan--a genuine friend of Israel -to recall his ambassador in protest. Even the Vatican has expressed concerns about Catholic sites in Jerusalem and Israeli policies.

5. Israel's calls to world powers to strike Iran, have been largely dismissed. While most nations fear a nuclear Iran, those "moderate" Arab states especially do. But countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia who fear a nuclear Iran just as much have also asked Israel to disarm as well. Turkey, another state that has traditionally had good ties with Tel-Aviv warned Israel to not violate its airspace in the event of a strike on Iran. But Israel's credibility on this issue is about as good as Tiger Woods' on fidelity.

6. Israel is making noise about how much they resent Hamas in Gaza. The facts on the ground, though, are quite different. Israel quietly communicates with Hamas and establishes rules of engagement of a sort. Since the the Israeli assault on Gaza a year ago, not a single Hamas member has been targeted by Israel. Israel kills fishermen, farmers and civilians in Gaza, while the Hamas leaders enjoy a peace of mind courtesy of Israel. But militants of the Islamic Jihad are constantly targeted by Israeli airstrikes. In return Hamas patrols the borders and detain those attempting to launch homemade rockets--I have personally seen Hamas police detain individuals attempting to launch rockets

7. Israeli extremists' assaults are reaching beyond Palestinians to hit closer home. Israel's Justice Minister stated, "step by step, Torah law will become binding in Israel." This is not what democracies do; but I have not heard anyone reject his desire to implement Jewish Law, where at least 25% of the population is not Jewish and the greater majority of the populace is secular. Such practices are more proper for dictatorships, not states boasting their respect for religious freedom

8. The number of Israeli extremists has increased as they become more vocal about their desire to build additional settlements. Such frightening scenarios have lead the Israel security forces to increase security on both Prime Minster Netanyahu and the Minister of Defense; this due to threats against their lives by Israeli extremists unhappy with the two figures. Ironically, these are the same people who helped Netanyahu get into office.

In other words, the practices and policies of the extremists in Israeli society (the settlers) are making many Palestinians' dream come true - one state for both people. I am not being naive about this, but the reality on the ground makes having a viable independent Palestinian state living next to Israel ludicrous in light of the changes on the ground. In order to work toward viable peace the international community has to do away with its own double standards when dealing with Israel -- and we Arabs have a gift for detecting double standards. Here is the reality: since the Israeli assault on Gaza a year ago, not a single Israeli has been killed as a result of violence coming from Gaza. While Israel continues to assassinate farmers on their land in Northern Gaza, Fishermen on their fishing boats, as well as militants. Thanks to the Extremists in the Israeli government, all the Palestinians have to do now is watch the most radical segment of the Israeli society bring about an outcome that the Israel as a whole won't be too fond of.