Shorter Nobel Fucking Peace Prize Laureate Shimon Peres, President of Israel:
If the European Union goes ahead with its shocking and totally sudden decision to stop doing business with just that bit of Israel that we’ve managed to steal from the Palestinians, which I stress was a complete surprise because we’ve only known it was coming for at least 8 years now, it will completely derail any chance at negotiations with the Palestinians that we don’t want to have anyway, because something something. Seriously, even though there is no logical reason why these two things should be connected to each other, trust me when I insist that they are intricately linked and then please don’t ask me how or why.
Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu (and, really, not just him; they’ve played this game before) has no interest in the peace process, but it has a deep and abiding interest in seeming like it’s interested in the peace process. That’s why, anytime it looks like actual progress in negotiations with the Palestinians may be in the cards, they grasp around for a convenient-sounding reason to abandon the talks because of something somebody else did. In 2010, the last time this game was played, talks broke down because Israel ended its moratorium on new West Bank
land theft settlement construction, but Netanyahu managed to convince the world that the breakdown was the Palestinians’ fault because they refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state should be recognized, but the 2010 talks broken down because of the settlements moratorium, period, unless you believe that they just happened to fall apart right after the settlements moratorium was lifted but really because of this other issue that’s been a bone of contention for decades now. Sure, OK.
Now the Europeans have offered Netanyahu his easy excuse for bailing on talks, and this one doesn’t even make the most basic logical sense. New EU guidelines (non-binding guidelines, mind you) would prevent EU member states and their companies from doing business with Israeli interests that have any connection to settlements or territory outside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, meaning anything in the Occupied West Bank. The Israelis are pretending to have been completely blindsided by these guidelines, despite having known they might be in the cards since at least 2005:
The fact that Netanyahu and other top officials were taken by surprise makes even less sense than Bennett’s accusation of “economic terror.” As declassified documents show, the Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser warned that the world would regard settlements as illegal even before the government approved the first one in the West Bank in 1967. The justice minister at the time warned that keeping the West Bank permanently, without giving Israeli citizenship to Palestinian residents, would be seen internationally as colonialism.
In 1986, when Industry Minister Ariel Sharon was building industrial parks in occupied territory, a diplomat at what was then the European Community chancery in Tel Aviv told me that the EC-Israel free-trade pact clearly applied “only to goods made in Israel,” not to products from the West Bank. Back then, though, the EC hadn’t started checking where imports marked “Made in Israel” were produced. Eventually, slowly, politely, European patience wore thin. In 2005, under EU pressure, Israel signed an agreement requiring it to label exports with the postal (zip) code of where they were produced. European customs officials were given a list of postal codes for occupied territory. Last year, the EU made the list public. In May, the EU postponed an expected decision to require products from settlements to be labeled as such explicitly. The delay reportedly came at Washington’s request, to allow Secretary of State John Kerry time to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The new restrictions on funding fit the same trend of rising European frustration—and the same effort by Israel’s friends to aim economic sanctions only at settlements. Europe is still giving Israel a chance to reach a two-state agreement.
And now they’ve sent Peres, who passes for a “dove” in the narrow spectrum of Israeli defense policy, out to claim that this move by the EU will derail peace talks that haven’t happened and may very well not happen as long as the Palestinian Authority keeps unreasonably demanding that Israel commit to not stealing anymore West Bank land while the talks are ongoing. This time Israel can blame the EU, I guess, even though it’s unclear that any member states will actually follow the new guidelines and, even if they did, this represents a very minor step against Israel’s illegal settlement policy that probably wouldn’t affect Israel in any significant way. But don’t expect anybody to question the logic as to why the EU’s new guidelines should have any impact on negotiations whatsoever, particularly not America’s soon-to-be UN Ambassador, Samantha Power:
She also said she sees at the United Nations “unacceptable bias and attacks against the State of Israel,” and “the absurdity” of Iran serving as chair of the UN Conference on disarmament.
“Israel’s legitimacy should be beyond dispute, and its security must be beyond doubt. Just as I have done the last four years as President Obama’s UN adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” she said.
Yeah, boy, lots of attacks against Israel from the UN these days. Like the couple hundred or so times when the Security Council resolved that Israel should knock off whatever it was doing, or condemned whatever it had already done, and Israel told the Security Council to go screw itself, and that was the end of the dialogue. Just horrible oppression there. Oh, and of course there was the time when the General Assembly acknowledged that Palestinians ought to be allowed to have their own country too, which is obviously a direct attack on Israel. “Israel’s legitimacy should be beyond dispute,” dammit, which it is but that’s a nice line to be able to stick into your Senate confirmation hearing record, isn’t it?
And on and on it goes.