Israel's irrationality is our fault

Israel's actions in expanding settlements is a direct result of being maligned and bullied by the international community, writes Executive Editor Raheem Kassam

Britain diminishes in stature by maligning its ally in Israel
On 3 December 2012 14:25

In Gaza, does Israel act as an 'oppressor' in limiting and searching goods that it actually helps filter through, or does it protect both the Gazan people from a terrorist outfit who created a de facto dictatorship in the area, and itself from further attacks across the border? All the while, Israel has increased the amount of traffic in goods to Gaza and reciprocally, many Gazans make the daily commute into Israel to do business. Despite what the anti-Israel lobby would have you think, I myself spoke to Palestinian businessmen in June this year who indicated their will to work with and inside Israel, if only Hamas would disappear.

Consider again what great lengths Israel goes to in an attempt to limit civilian causalities in its ongoing conflict with Hamas. Does Israel place Hamas rocket sites metres away from schools? No, Hamas does. Does Israel target civilians? No, Hamas does. 

And when the international community called upon Israel to withdraw from its occupation of Gaza, to allow 'democracy to flourish' - pray tell what happened? The unilateral disengagement in 2005 led to a terrorist organisation not simply taking the reins of government, but brutally smashing the opposition (the Palestinian Authority) and proceeding to fire well over 8,000 rockets into Israel as a result. Hamas has turned Gaza into a weapons storage and launch facility for Iran - nothing more, nothing less.

And yet Israel is now also expected to lend diplomatic legitimacy in that direction - as we saw with Egypt's negotiation of a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel just weeks ago.

The facts you'd think would speak for themselves - but while Israel is not guilt-free, she has been consistently rational and more often than not, responsible towards not only her own people, but towards Palestinians also.

Now the international community, Britain at the fore, is pushing Israel beyond the scope of what is reasonable.

The failure to get the Palestinians around the negotiating table prior to a UN statehood bid is a blow to Israel's continued efforts to renew talks. A settlement moratorium was ignored by the Palestinians, as has been every offer to sit down with no preconditions, an offer made as recently as October 2012 by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

So Israel has finally responded in a manner that befits David, rather than the Goliath it is made out to be. As the only Jewish state, the only legitimate and transparent and free democracy in the region, Israel has been pushed to taking an offensive stance rather than a defensive stance.

This relates to the announcement of 3,000 new settler units and plans to develop the E1 area east of Jerusalem - a position that may well cut the Palestinian areas off from the West Bank.

Is this the fault of some super right-wing expansionist plot? Not likely. It will cost Israel time, money, political and diplomatic capital and is the equivalent not just to kicking the can down the road, but to booting it over the fence and into a pond. 

When actions have been taken repeatedly to undermine the position of an ally whose actions are broadly reflective of a strong will for peace - then certain rational and responsible actions go out the window with it. 

Expanding and building settlements in areas that could and would be Palestinian areas is of course irrational and irresponsible, but the international community, Britain especially, has placed Israel in a position whereby it sees, from the world's feelings and dealings on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, that aggression seems to be consistently rewarded. 

In now talking about 'tough sanctions' against Israel for its actions, Britain espouses yet another inconsistent response to bringing parties in the region to the table - and has landed itself a position of increasing irrelevance and opposition to its allies in Israel and the United States.

For Britain, Israel's actions are unpalatable. For Israel, Britain's reaction is unconscionable.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor for The Commentator

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