Last Thursday, the UN declared Palestine an independent state.
138 votes in favor.
That historic day marked the beginning of a peaceful resolution for a conflict that has been going on for far too long. However, this pleasant news (for most of the world that is) seems to have been overshadowed, and celebrations have been stifled by Israel’s dramatic and unreasonable response.
The next day, Israel approved the construction of 3000 new homes in the West bank. That’s right. The nation’s response was Illegal settlements. Not an unexpected one either. It did not end there, however.
Netanyahu seems to have one thing in mind, to make the two-state option an impossibility. His project will cut the West Bank in half, dividing its North from its South. There are 1.6 million Palestinians living on the Gaza strip who are separated by 25 miles from the 2.4 million living on the West Bank. The impact is that there will be no two-state solution. It will not change things, it will end things. Not only will Palestinians be cut off from Jerusalem, but also the creation of a connected Palestinian state will be made impossible.
Many news organizations are stating clearly what Netanyahu’s plans are and what it would mean for the future of Palestine and the two-state policy. As the Palestinians celebrate a much deserved and belated victory, Israel’s response is an implication of great importance that needs to be questioned and addressed.
Israel has always experienced isolation within the Middle East region, as it is not recognized as a legitimate state by neighboring countries. However, they have never been shunned or isolated on the world stage nearly as much as the recent uprisings that killed over 170 Palestinians and 5 Israeli’s. There is only one way to explain Israel’s reaction; it is a sign of vulnerability and weakness.
Israel chose to “punish” in other ways as well. Netanyahu announced that Israel would hold back more than $100 million in tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli governments response is an example of self-destruction at its finest. The world, including Israel, is questioning Netanyahu’s bold move. Why, after losing the U.N vote 138 to 9, would the Israeli government announce a move that will sink them deeper into international isolation? My answer? Fear.
The world’s reaction I’m sure is of great comfort to Palestinians and others who oppose the ruthless and irrational response of the Israeli government. The UK, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden summoned Israeli ambassadors in protest at the plans, and the US also called on Israel to “reconsider” its decision. Russia, Germany and the UN have also objected to the plans.
The world has changed. It no longer stands where it used to in regards to human rights and democracy. This vote would have never occurred in 2008, even though over 1700 Palestinians were killed. The world will no longer stand, watch and condone injustice. Freedom is no longer only applicable to a certain group of people, just because the most powerful country in the world provides them with military support.
Much of Israel’s recent anger is due to the fact that the Western world seems to have shifted. The world is looking for solutions. It is looking for peace. It is truly unfortunate that the right step towards a peaceful resolution in a region of extreme conflict has to be treated as such. And it is even more unfortunate that a country that declares itself “peaceful” is reacting in ways that only declares it as extreme, ruthless and unfair. And at the end of the day, it is only damaging to their reputation on the world stage.
As one Palestinian said, “As long as the world is with us, I don’t think we even care about what Israel is and what they can do to us.”
The world is not just with the Palestinians.
It is with freedom, peace and justice.