BENJAMIN Netanyahu is known for his contempt of the Palestinians and their rights, and he has done everything possible during his various stints as Israeli prime minister to ensure the Palestinians never get a viable state of their own. Yet another reminder of this came on Tuesday when the Israeli leader pledged to annex the Jordan Valley and other parts of the occupied West Bank — areas considered Arab land by the international community — if voted to power again in next week’s general election. Though never a supporter of peace, and always a proponent of crushing Palestinian rights, it seems Mr Netanyahu is stooping to new depths to capture the hard right’s votes in Israel. He had previously promised to annex all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Moreover, the Israeli prime minister’s reckless behaviour has been duly rewarded by his country’s biggest benefactor, the US; in March Donald Trump recognised the occupied Golan Heights — seized by Tel Aviv from Syria in 1967 — as ‘Israeli territory’, again flying in the face of world opinion. Knowing that the US will protect them from all opprobrium, Mr Netanyahu and other members of the Israeli right know that they can get away with anything, and that nothing will be done practically to uphold the Palestinians’ rights.
While there have been many parallels drawn between the Israeli treatment of Palestinians and India’s brutalities unleashed on the people of India-held Kashmir, here, too, both states seem to be following the same playbook. Narendra Modi had also promised to scrap Kashmiri autonomy as part of his election campaign, and delivered on it; now it seems that Netanyahu has copied his ally in New Delhi. There has been a strong reaction to Israel’s ominous plans. The UN has said the proposed move would be “devastating” as far as peace prospects go, while Palestinian leaders have said the move would “bury chances of peace” and amounts to a “declaration of war against the Palestinian people’s rights”. The largely feeble Arab League has also slammed the move. However, the question remains: will opposition to this illegality remain restricted to issuing thunderous statements? Or will anything practical be done to protect Palestinian rights? If history is any judge, Israel is likely to get away with its crimes, backed by the US, and inflict more ignominies upon the Arabs. If the world community is serious about upholding the principles of fundamental rights, then Israel must be stopped from grabbing more Arab land.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019