Netanyahu Humiliates Obama with another E. Jerusalem Housing Expansion; Israeli Troops allegedly used live Ammo; UK expels Mossad Chief

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sets the tone for Israeli policy– one that is earning him few friends in the West. Three embarrassments broke for him on Tuesday. First, yet another housing expansion in East Jerusalem was announced while he was meeting President Obama. Then, the cover story of Israeli troops accused of firing live ammunition at Palestinian protesters began to unravel. Then British Foreign Minister David Miliband unceremoniously tossed the Mossad London station chief out of the country for counterfeiting British passports, to be used in an Israeli assassination of a Palestinian in Dubai recently. Netanyahu personally ordered that hit, and is responsible for the forging of real peoples’ passports and their use to commit a murder. Netanyahu is the one behind these acts of arrogance, and they are emblematic of his mean brand of politics.

The far rightwing government of Binyamin Netanyahu humiliates American officials every time it meets with them. Netanyahu met Obama in Washington on Tuesday, and like clockwork Israel embarrassed Obama by announcing that same day it was going ahead with a building project (funded by an American millionaire) in East Jerusalem that the Obama administration had strictly told the Israelis to halt. What I don’t understand is why the Palestinians cannot sue over this issue in American courts. If the administration’s stance is that East Jerusalem does not belong to Israel, and the US is signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, then why couldn’t Palestinians with standing sue in the US when their property is usurped by an American millionaire?

Israel will investigate the shooting deaths of two Palestinian youth who were protesting (not rioting as AP puts it) against Israeli theft of water from the village well. Israeli troops claimed they were using rubber bullets, but Palestinians charge it was actually live ammunition.

Aljazeera English has the scoop, with live video of Israeli troops firing on the Palestinian youths, with what certainly sounds like live ammunition.

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British Foreign Minister David Miliband said he had compelling evidence that Israel was responsible for forging British passports with respect to the recent assassination of an alleged Hamas figure in Dubai. Miliband expelled from London a senior Israeli ‘diplomat’ who was likely actually a Mossad or Israeli intelligence operative. In Israel, some parliamentarians responded by calling Miliband an ‘anti-Semitic dog.’ The Israeli use of passports of actual persons in the assassination put at risk not only those individuals but all persons from those countries in the Middle East. Miliband complained that the forgeries represented a profound disregard for the sovereignty of Britain. He might now commiserate a little with the Palestinians, whose sovereignty was robbed by the British with their Balfour Declaration and by the Israelis, to the point where they have been demoted from a Class A League of Nations Mandate declared almost ready for nationhood to stateless refugees.

ITN has video of Miliband’s decision:

Tony Karon argues that Israel will not end its expansion of settlements in the West Bank until it has to pay a cost for maintaining the status quo.

Israel is in danger of using up its previous stock of good will in the West by these acts of hubris, initiated by the petulant policies of Netanyahu.
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14 Responses

  1. The international community has already decided to support the declaration of a Palestinian state in 2012, based on the 1967 borders.

    The grandstanding and theatrics of the Israeli leaders help, not hinder, that plan.

  2. With regard to the Palestinians shot dead, the Guardian reports that:

    "However, a hospital x-ray of Osaid Qadus, seen by the Guardian, showed a bullet lodged in his brain.

    Ahmed Hamad, a doctor at the hospital who treated the two, said the x-ray showed a "classic, pure metallic bullet". He said both boys had injuries with small entry wounds."

    link to guardian.co.uk

  3. Somebody please explain exactly how Israel is a special friend to the United States.

    Under the guise of "special friendship," Israel flouts international law with impunity secure in the knowledge the US will protect it from UN Security Council actions. These violations of international law sabotage the US's position in all diplomatic matters with all countries.

    These acts of political sabotage suggest that Israel views the US more as a resource to be used until it is used up, then discarded, and less of a friend it respects.

  4. Why should Israel change it's behavior? Nothing will happen no matter how bad the country behaves. In fact, we'll send them limitless financial support, weapons and anything else they want. Oh, various governments/
    people will rant a bit and work hard at sounding tough but it's all a silly game of show and tell. No one takes it seriously,
    especially the Israelis.

  5. There are NEVER any significant consequences to Israel's theft of land or agression against its neighbors. So, why should they stop. Israel is like a spoiled child who is never punished. This child begins to learn the absolute wrong lessons about life and adopts a grandiose sense of entitlement. If I could walk into Macy's and take anything I wanted, why would I not do it? The American Jews have no problem with Israel's behavior and neither do the US leaders.

  6. The Israeli government repeatedly, almost continually appears to mock American Presidents or British Prime Ministers to the extent that the only conclusion to be reached is that Israeli leaders understand they will never be challenged in fact by British or American political leaders. Israel could not have wished for more support than Nancy Pelosi and Congressional leaders afforded.

  7. Israel is in danger of using up its previous stock of good will in the West by these acts of hubris, initiated by the petulant policies of Netanyahu.

    – Juan Cole

    Congress showed there is absolutely no danger Israel will lose an iota of American support for whatever the Israeli government wishes to do. I am deeply saddened but this seems completely realistic. Also, Israel is not being petulant but wildly, bloodily aggressive.

  8. Think we need to step back for a moment and consider what WOULD explain these apparent provocations by Israel. Think about a few things:

    US aid to Israel used to account for something like 25% of their GNP, now it's down to maybe 2.5%.

    The Israeli Right-Wing is now consolidating and extending its domestic power by inflaming the "intolerable existential threat" from Iran, while the US is drawing back from attacking them on Israel's behalf. If anything, the US seems to be drawn to working out a modus vivendi with Iran.

    Israel needs to consolidate the West Bank, apart perhaps from a few Bantustans, for reasons of lebensraum as well as military security (ie, to establish a clear and defensible Eastern border on the Jordan). This needs to be done now, before the Palestinian demographic imbalance deteriorates even further. If successful, Israel can hope to strangle any Palestinian population increase, as proposed by that Israeli-American at Harvard whose name I'm forgetting.

    This is a plan that could work, and to support the possibilities for a single strong and dominating Jewish State, it’s the closest thing to a scenario that has some chance of success. Consistent with the "clean break" memo to Netanyahu some years ago, Israel needs to make a break from its relationship with the US to get the above done and become genuinely independent.

    Netanyahu now appears to be pushing the US around, much like a lover who ostensibly wants their mate to either cave-in or move on, but who really wants to take them to the cleaners as they go out the door while making it all Their Fault. He is a politician after all, and to split the US Jewish community to at least retain the unqualified support of some of them is only reasonable.

    Then there is Iran. On one level, the right-wingers know Iran presents only a theoretical threat sometime in the future, and that Iran may well be playing the nuclear issue largely for their own domestic consumption. Still, there is a drama here that begs to be resolved in terms of a narrative to explain everything else that happens. In addition, on an individual level, even leaders that should know better are vulnerable to getting swept away by their own rhetoric. (Good salesmen, after all, must always first convince themselves).

    At this point it is not unreasonable to believe the senior leadership of Israel feels if they cannot get the US to humble Iran, which appears to be the case, they need to do the job themselves and now. They could reasonably hope to make an example of Iran, and Israel could promise total thermonuclear annihilation should they try to revive the nascent program that stands to be shortly destroyed in a relatively benign manner. Such a demonstration needs to be made if Israel is going to cut the perception of their reliance on the US and intimidate any future peer powers. The IDF air force simply cannot do it conventionally, even if the US let them over-fly Iraq. All it'd take would be a sucker-punch from a dozen of their Jericho-III missiles with small nuclear warheads. Getting past the hysterical mis-information associated with nukes, smaller "nukies" would fill the bill here nicely.

    The long-term geopolitical imperatives say Israel will need to make an example of someone if they are to consolidate and maintain their (now totally independent) regional hegemony. This means first divorcing themselves from the US, which is the scenario that Israel's leadership seems to have contrived and which explains what we are now seeing.

  9. @Anonymous 11:45AM Nice analysis; thank-you for taking the time & effort to post your thoughts here. imho, Mr. Netanyahu et al seem to be badly over-playing their hand. There is in TheStates a rising tide of angry / irrational electorate hell-bent on something resembling 'cultural revolution' : openly carrying weapons; employing martial rhetoric in political discourse; hurling almost forgotten but still familiar racial, ethnic slurs at people, etc. ~ they seem all -too- willing to burn down all the bridges, reject traditional arrangements and agreements, including the "special relationship between ISRAEL and the USA." Indeed, the danger of outright lies propagated by political leaders and revisionist history is that once these processes have begun, no one really knows where they will lead. In this climate of barely constrained rage it would not surprise this writer if a reincarnated Dolchstosslegende narrative were to emerge, simultaneously on the far right and far left ~ to the great detriment of ISRAEL, as well as many innocent Jewish people in TheStates ~ to "excuse past and present political and military leaders" for their inability to accomplish much of anything in the Middle East.

  10. No "Western democracy" will say that Israel is (and has for 43 years been) in violation of international law. IL is anathema in London, Washington, and perhaps Berlin and Paris.

    But the US will say that the settlements hurt ITS projects and UK will say that Israeli assassins upset it by misusing British passports.

    It's all complaining about how Israel hurts Western projects and interests, not about violations of law.

    And even while UK complains, EU makes ready to reward Israel (for what?) by bringing it within EU's economic community

    How's that for punishing Israel for law-breaking? Rather makes you wonder.

  11. Ending US aid to Israel would be a step in the right direction, but may not be as effective as many think.

    With Jews reported to comprise about half of all US billionaires, they could easily afford to fill in the gap themselves if if they had a mind to.

  12. Great post, though since I am unfamiliar generally with the writing style, it does seem unnecessarily marked with euphemism. A previous poster points out that "petulant" is perhaps not the correct colour for someone of such arrogant, if not vicious, political perspectives.

    Regarding Miliband's statement – that he made a statement at all is surprising, but perhaps British pride ("the safety of British passport holders" etc) is more important to him than his Zionism. His kicking out an Israeli representative is laudable, but it is not necessarily "unceremonious", given how sycophantically tolerant the Miliband/Blair type has been of Israeli transgressions throughout the last ten years. On occasions the UK government have had to spell out their "opposition" to illegal settlements in letters to British constituents, or by press spokesperson, since their behaviour on the ground has been generally supportive. That goes *particularly* for David Miliband, sadly!

    The influence of the Israeli lobby on British politics was recently covered by Dispatches, surprisingly by right-wing commentator Peter Oborne. Worth a view, though naturally it became the target for a lot of reactionary ire.

  13. If Israel feels free to insinuate itself into our politics, as it has so effectively thru AIPAC, why can't we return the favor? Surely we have the means to oust Netanyahoo?

  14. If you are actually interested in why the Palestenians cannot sue in U.S. Courts, there is a (relatively) simple reason.

    The United States Federal Courts have long adhered to a doctrine known as the "Act of State Doctrine," which essentially states that United States Courts will not pass judgment on the decisions of foreign countries made under foreign laws.

    Any suit, even on against the American millionaire at issue here, would require the Courts to pass judgment on the validity of a decision made by the Israeli government, in this case the decision to permit building in East Jerusalem.

    This doctrine makes sense for the courts. This is an issue that needs to be handled through diplomacy – the courts do not the power to control what foreign countries do, the expertise to make effective judgments of foreign policy, or the legitimacy on the international stage to speak for the United States Government.

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