Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, December 2012
No Consequences for Israel's Hateful Conduct of Grabbing More Palestinian Lands?
By Stuart Littlewood
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 10, 2012
Civil society calls for trade sanctions but Hague says EU has “no enthusiasm”
Earlier this week, in a sham show of “get tough” diplomacy, UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt announced that the Israeli ambassador had been formally summoned to the Foreign Office following Israel’s decisions to build 3,000 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, unfreeze planning in the area known as E1 and withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority.
He said the British response “stems from our disappointment that the Israeli government has not heeded the calls that we and others had made for Israel to avoid reacting to the UN General Assembly resolution in a way that undermines the Palestinian Authority or a return to talks.”
A spokesperson said afterwards: “Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners, including the US and European Union.” This referred to persistent reports that Britain and France had threatened to withdraw their ambassadors from Israel.
Area E1 is to the north-east of Jerusalem. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recalls how George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice asked him: “Please don’t build in E1, because if you do, it will be beyond the capacity of the Palestinian leadership to sit with you.” Building there, he says, is “the one thing” which is certain to offend the government of the United States.
Current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s move, therefore, seems deliberately intended to scupper any chance of peace talks. Once again the situation makes nonsense of British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s clapped-out mantra that issues can only be resolved by a return to negotiations.
The previous day Hague said he was “extremely concerned” about the 3,000 new housing units. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties.” Poor Willie Hague is a bit slow on the uptake because Israel’s illegal house-building on Palestinian land has been going on for decades.
If he’d been paying attention he would know that this point was reached some time ago.
There has also been media speculation that France and Britain might consider trade sanctions if the settlement decision was not reversed. But Hague says he didn’t think there’s any enthusiasm around the European Union for that. As The Times of Israel puts it, “EU won’t punish Israel for settlement expansion plan, says Britain’s foreign minister”.
Not that anyone seriously thought the wimps would.
And just to put the whole matter quietly to bed, Israel’s comical propaganda chief Mark Regev defended Israel’s latest criminal activity, saying that “from our perspective, Israel is responding in a very measured way to a series of Palestinian provocations”.
Pressure is building for sanctions
However, Hague is coming under increasing pressure in Parliament as MPs queue up to ask difficult questions. For example, Sir Gerald Kaufman (who is proudly Jewish) asked point-blank:
Duncan Hames observed:
To which Hague said:
Ben Bradshaw told Hague:
Like all his Zionist friends Hague has an aversion to international law and economic sanctions – unless they happen to be targeted on Iran, of course. It was not enough that he shamed the British people by trying to blackmail the Palestinian leadership last week, requiring them not to use their upgraded UN membership to pursue Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity and instead to bog themselves down once more in dead-end “negotiations”.
Now he shames us again by shirking from firm action against the racist regime’s endless land thieving and general lawlessness.
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