Israel Punishing Palestinians for UN recognition by Further Undermining 2 State Possibilities

Israel’s move to punish Palestine by building new settlements is a disaster. Please read the editorial below by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, but also my comments on the Reform Judaism response which has been very disappointing.

Editor’s Note: For those like me who love Israel and wish to see its citizens safe and secure, and know that that can only happen when Palestinians are also safe and secure, the defacto abrogating of the possibllity of a two state solution should Israel follow through on its punishment of the Palestinians by building in the area cutting the possible Palestinian state in two is a tragic error. Please read the Ha’aretz editorial below. It makes me sad to imagine what will happpen when Palestinians actually see the 2 state solution destroyed in coming years by a Netanyahu-Likud-Beiteinu government, and are then driven into the hands of Hamas or other extremists. The only plausible alternative is for them to demand “one person, one vote” inside Israel, and that is not going to be accepted by many Israelis who still feel scared enough of the world to believe that their only safety comes in a state with a Jewish majority. I discuss these issues in more detail in my 2012 book Embracing Israel/Palestine which you might want to consider for a holiday gift for your Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and secular friends www.tikkun.org/EIP .

Meanwhile, it is disappointing to listen to the Reform movement (Union of Reform Judaism) dealing with all this by castigating Palestinians for seeking recognition at the U.N., as though their desire for international support is somehow a crime, when in fact it was the logical outcome of Israel blocking any serious negotiations by refusing to stop expanding its West Bank settlements. Here is a part of what they said after the vote this past Thursday:

“We are deeply disappointed in the results of the vote in the United Nations yesterday to accept Palestinian non-member observer state status. We believe this decision will undercut incentives for a final agreement that must be negotiated by the two impacted parties directly. We are also concerned about the potential for this decision to enable the Palestinians to challenge Israel, both diplomatically and legally, in the international arena in UN sponsored venues such as the International Criminal Court, a move that will do serious damage to rebuilding the trust between Israel and the Palestinians. We want to commend–and thank–the United States and Canada for their vigorous position [opposing UN recognition of the Palestinian state] regarding this UN vote. We agree with Secretary of State Clinton who said that: ‘”Only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.’ HELLO???? Has the Reform movement been asleep or ethically unconscious these past 18 years after Oslo when negotiations have led nowhere and Israel has expanded its Occupation dramatically and refused the 2009 demand of both President Obama and the Palestinians to stop building settlements while negotiations took place? Have they not even bothered to read the daily coverage of what the Israeli newspaper calls Israel’s “arrogance” (see below) in dealing with the Palestinian people. Bad enough that the Obama Administration has fallen back from its original demand, but what about Reform Jews–have they really lost their moral compass on this issue?

The Reform movement in Judaism was once a leader of ethical consciousness–and still is on almost every issue both in the US and Israel–except the one most important issue facing the Jewish people: reconciliation and peace with Palestinians. I hope that Reform rabbis will have the courage to stand up and not allow their important movement to continue to avoid its ethical responsibilities when it comes to challenging Israeli policies that continue to thwart the 2 state solution to which the Reform movement (along with Netanyahu) gives lip service.–Rabbi Michael Lerner
Israel’s punishment
The other side said its piece loud and clear: Yes to a two-state solution. But Israel’s government responded with a step that, first and foremost, punishes Israel.
Haaretz Editorial | Dec.02, 2012 | 2:23 AM

The government decided this weekend to build another 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and also to move ahead with planning and building procedures for the E1 area, located between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. That is how the government responded to the UN General Assembly’s decision to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state; that is how the government decided to punish the Palestinians and the world.

The latter said its piece loud and clear: Yes to a two-state solution. But Israel’s government responded with a step that, first and foremost, punishes Israel. The only positive aspect of this decision is the fact that Israel has recognized that the settlements are indeed a punishment.

This is a particularly grave and dangerous decision. Instead of internalizing the fact that a sweeping majority of nations are sick of the Israeli occupation and want a Palestinian state, Israel is entrenching itself even further in its own rejectionism, and deepening its isolation and the disconnect between itself and the international reality. Instead of drawing the necessary conclusions from its resounding failure, the government is dragging Israel into additional diplomatic disasters. And instead of embarking on sincere, genuine negotiations with the new observer state, Israel is turning its back on it, and on the world.

The government’s decision is the last nail in the coffin of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan University speech in 2009. It is proof positive that this speech, in which he ostensibly accepted the principle of two states, was merely a deception. What is particularly astounding, however, is the violation of Israel’s commitment to the United States not to build in E1, given that construction there would preclude the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank. After America was left as virtually the last supporter of Israel’s position at the United Nations, Israel is repaying it with a resounding slap in the face.

Israel’s decision is also a slap in the face to another loyal friend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who explained Germany’s abstention in the vote as stemming from Israel’s refusal to stop construction in the territories. So, even before the next election, in which the joint “Likud-Beiteinu” ticket is presenting an especially right-wing, extremist slate, Netanyahu has already signaled where he is heading: toward extremism, diplomatic isolation, denunciation and ostracism by the world.

The world – even including the United States this time – can’t allow Israel’s arrogant response to pass quietly. This very government decision might serve as a spur to those who want to transfer the settlements issue to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as punishment for the “punishment” imposed by Israel. And the next time Israel needs the world’s help, on the Iranian issue or on any other, the world will remember this decision.

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Meanwhile: ¬†Help your friends understand the situation–buy everyone on your holiday guest list a copy of Rabbi Lerner’s Embracing Israel/Palestine www.tikkun.org/eip or getting them a gift subscription to Tikkun magazine www.tikkun.org

 
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