Groundless accusations are water off a duck’s back. What really hurts is when you know that there is truth in them.
The vitriolic response to the UN resolution on illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, and to John Kerry’s very measured speech explaining why the USA refused to exercise its veto, show that Israel is just a touch sensitive on the issue.
The reality is clear to anyone who looks at the pattern of settlement building on a map: it is removing the possibility of a viable Palestinian state that could co-exist peacefully with Israel.
Israel has persisted with settlement expansion on Palestinian land whilst the focus of world attention in the region has been understandably elsewhere, and it has, until now, enjoyed the assurance of support in the USA.
My own attitude was one of instinctive support for Israel. It is a democracy and an ally. My generation saw the Arab / Israeli wars through the lens of a David against Goliath. My attitudes were hardened by our experience of international terrorism by the PLO and our horror at what happened at the Munich Olympics. In more recent years we were disgusted by the senseless and indiscriminate suicide bombings of innocents in Israel.
We do no service to our friend and ally however, if we are silent and ignore its folly at scuppering the possibility of a two state solution, which we regard as the only prospect for its own long term peace and security.
John Kerry said that, if the endeavour to create two state solution is abandoned, Israel cannot be both a democracy and Jewish: for if the Palestinians are not to have their own state, then they will have to have all their civil rights accommodated in the state of Israel.
My fear is that a significant part of the Israeli establishment reject this logic. Rather, they believe that they can continue to occupy Palestinian land and tell the Palestinians that they must seek their political expression and representation in Jordan, or in sub-state ‘bantustans’.
The Obama administration’s pressure on Israel has come far too late, and President Trump will renew robust, perhaps unquestioning, support for Israel. So, the prospects for a two state solution, which has been the focus of US and European endeavour for so long, looks bleak indeed.
If the opportunity is lost, Israel will not be alone in bearing the consequences: we will all feel the fallout from continuing violent instability in the region.