5th April 2019
Partners in Crime – Trump endorses Netanyahu re-election
With Israeli elections scheduled for 9th April incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, looks set to be returned to office in some form of coalition with ultra right nationalists, who are demanding the annexation of the occupied territories and the expulsion of all Arabs.
For a Prime Minister who, in his ten years in office, has stuck resolutely to positions including no withdrawal from the Golan Heights, no discussion of the status of Jerusalem and no acceptance of any Palestinian pre-conditions in negotiations, acceding to the demands of the ultra right would not be a great departure.
The Golan Heights, which is part of Syria, was occupied by Israel in 1967, has always been contested by the Syrian government and recognised as Syrian by the international community. However, just two weeks ago the United States government formally recognised Israel’s ‘right’ to the Golan Heights. The move follows the recognition by the US last year of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, in spite of its contested international status, and the promise to relocate the US Embassy there.
Over the past year Palestinians locked in the blockaded Gaza strip have been protesting against the Israeli occupation on a weekly basis. Over that period alone Israeli soldiers have killed 194 people, including 40 children. Nearly 29,000 people have been wounded of which 7,000 were shot with live ammunition.
The UN commission investigating Israeli claims that the protests are a cover for attacks upon the border fence, itself illegal, has not found this to be the case. On the contrary, the UN said that the demonstrations were almost entirely civilian and the use of lethal force by the Israelis was neither necessary nor proportionate. Israeli snipers have shot dead civilians hundreds of metres from the border fence.
The US has in effect been supporting Israeli action against the Palestinians. Trump has made no secret of his support for Netanyahu and the feeling is mutual on the part of the Israeli leader. The European Union on the other hand has done nothing to support the justified cause of the Palestinians. As things stand there is little prospect of a peace settlement and Netanyahu’s re-election will only push that further from reach.
In the meantime the weekly protests by a blockaded people, armed with sticks and stones, will continue against one of the world’s most powerfully armed military regimes. In any other part of the world such an army firing on unarmed civilians would be arraigned for war crimes. It seems that, under US cover, the Israeli government not only has immunity but will continue to act with impunity.