Bravo Britain for slamming Obama over Israel

Britain, to the fury of the lame-duck Obama administration, has called out John Kerry for his wishy washy approach to terrorism against Israel. This is an important move, and we should applaud it, for all our sakes

True allies? They should be
the commentator
On 30 December 2016 07:28

Given that Britain has just voted in favour of a dangerous, lop-sided, and essentially bigoted United Nations Security Council Resolution condemning Israel over the red-herring issue of "settlements" we are hardly in the right place to be popping the champagne corks over the country's relationship with the Jewish state.

But Prime Minister Theresa May, nonetheless, deserves a warm round of applause for calling out the hapless, lame-duck, Obama administration for some of the inane and, frankly, childish remarks that have subsequently accompanied it.

Speaking for the Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry said this week that last Friday's decision by the US to allow the UN resolution to go through was the only way to stop Israel's plans for, "unfettered settlement construction".

He described Prime Minister Netanyahu's government as, "the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements".

It would be easy for us to take apart this nonsense, but it is far better that one of America's leading allies does it instead. This is exactly what has happened.

"We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally,” a spokesman for Prime Minister May said.

“We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal, which is why we supported UN security council resolution 2334 last week... But we are also clear that the settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”

The Obama administration is now bleating that Britain is being unfair. The truth is that it is not. Britain has all but accused the United States of being soft on terrorism, and it is right to do so.

For Palestinian terrorism and rejection of multiple peace deals has always been at the heart of the failure to resolve this conflict, while the so-called "settlement" issue counts for very little. Even the Palestinians (as the wikileaks some years ago showed) are quite clear that at least 95 percent of what the international community routinely refers to as settlements would become part of Israel under any real world peace deal anyway.

It just isn't a big deal, and is only turned into one by people who are blind to the real root causes of the conflict.

But the attitude of Obama, Kerry and company is not merely part of the problem in terms of getting us closer to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Their wishy washy attitude to terrorism against Israel -- failing to place it front and centre in the conflict -- sends out ambiguous messages to a wider community of terrorists and their supporters.

Potential terrorists in the West do hear condemnations of terrorism from our leaders when a bomb goes off in Jerusalem, but the overall messaging is always laced with qualifications.

Perhaps, a young militant on the verge of violent radicalisation might think, terrorism could be justified in some circumstances. What if there's an "occupation" going on? Could that make terrorism ok? Is the presence of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan "occupation" too? Well then, is what Islamic State sympathisers do so different from what Palestinian terrorists do?

Actually, it isn't, which is why clear and unambiguous messages from Western leaders are so vital, and why the absence of them in the case of Israel -- which is permanently threatened by terrorism -- creates the kind of muddy water in which radical ideologues can thrive.

Kerry and Obama will never understand that point. But three weeks today they will, thankfully, be gone.

Britain should have vetoed last week's UN resolution. We are where we are.

But at least the British government is talking some sense about Israel-Palestine these days. That is something to build on, and we should give credit where credit is due.

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