By Iqbal Jassat
Does the defiant declaration by Benjamin Netanyahu to press ahead with completing Israel’s colonial project in Palestine, not challenge the world that regardless of international conventions, his government will continue to defy them?
Knowing full well that Israel has America’s back and that western capitals stretching from London to Paris would be petrified to call him out, Netanyahu made this brazen statement:
“These are the basic lines of the national government headed by me: The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop settlements in all parts of the Land of Israel – in the Galileo, the Negev, the Golan, Judea and Samaria.”
It leaves no room for ambiguity: Netanyahu spells out the outcome of the pact agreed to with what has been described as the most extreme right-wing regime he now leads.
And the implications are equally dire for Palestinians who with the stroke of a pen, face the consequences of the Netanyahu regime’s ghastly plot to ethnically cleanse them.
His categoric declaration implies that Palestinians either do not exist or that if they do, they have no right to continue living in Palestine, for “the Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel”.
And in case some apologists of apartheid Israel try to minimize the damaging impact of Netanyahu’s declaration by suggesting that he is referring to the 1967 Green Line, do not be misled.
By spelling out and identifying the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in Zionist terms “Galileo, Negev, Golan, Judea and Samaria”, as “parts of the Land of Israel” earmarked for the development of Jewish settlements, is an unmistakable declaration to expand and entrench colonization of the OPT.
Such unilateral expansionism is not unique to the current regime because all previous Israeli governments since 1948
have conducted similar illegal and immoral projects including land grabs, forced evictions, and creating “facts on the ground”.
The Judaization of Palestine has been at the core of Zionism’s colonial project. Now that Netanyahu has reiterated his regime’s commitment to complete it, he does so in full view of the world’s media, brazen and unrepentant.
In doing so he has made clear that all so-called “diplomatic” moves have been and remain mere charades.
Now that he has pulled the rug from under the feet of the United Nations, the question arises as to whether this global institution will react and if so what will its response be.
The same can be asked of Israel’s Western allies. Will they continue to behave like the proverbial ostrich by sticking their collective heads into the ground? After all, America and Western Europe have been complicit in Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians.
The Zionist regime has since the era of British colonialism, which implanted it in the heart of the Muslim world, been a major source of destabilization, terror, and wars in the region and beyond.
In fact, as an integral part of the West’s military-industrial complex, Israel has amassed a massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction including nuclear bombs, making it extremely dangerous and reckless as evident in Netanyahu’s bravado.
However, instead of a comprehensive review and assessment by America to realign its policies on Israel in line with global conventions on human rights, true to form the Biden administration has opted to reward it.
Mitchell Plitnick, writing in Mondoweiss, reminds us of Biden’s recent elevation of Israel to a “full military partner” that apart from setting a “dangerous precedent”, works against U.S. interests.
His warning is backed up by analyst Paul Pillar who correctly points out that:
“The risks of a closer military relationship with Israel center on Israel’s tendency to get involved in deadly scrapes. Israel is the Middle Eastern state that has thrown its military weight around, with multiple attacks on the territories of other nations, more than any other state in the region. Israel has repeatedly initiated wars, including the big one in 1967, which began with an Israeli attack on Egypt. Later came repeated Israeli invasions of Lebanon, multiple devastating military attacks on the Palestinian-inhabited Gaza Strip, an attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor (an attack that revived and accelerated a covert Iraqi nuclear weapons program), and a later similar attack in Syria.”
These warnings may not be treated lightly, especially by countries such as South Africa whose foreign policy in respect of Israel needs to undergo a radical transformation.
That the ANC-led government has recalled its ambassador and campaigns vigorously at various platforms including the African Union, falls far short of the expectations Palestinians have.
Apartheid Israel has by far outstripped the evils of South Africa’s racist regime, yet retains a proud presence in Pretoria with its flag fluttering in the skies of a democratic country.
It is shameful that Israelis are able to travel freely from Tel Aviv to Johannesburg and Cape Town without any hurdles, while Palestinians are burdened with severe Visa restrictions.
It is equally deplorable that many South African Jewish citizens are deployed in Israel’s military. An army of terrorists that’s known to be engaged in horrific crimes against Palestinians, in a daily ritual of slaughter.
These facts scream at us via news reports in print media, television broadcasts, and social media platforms. And while President Ramaphosa routinely expresses the government’s dismay, it is hopelessly inadequate.
If South Africa was subjected to sanctions by the UN and isolated by the community of nations for applying apartheid, surely consistency in enforcing the same against Israel is a reasonable expectation?
Netanyahu’s declaration is not only a reminder that Israel is a serial violator of international law, but it also dares the world to take punitive measures by subjecting his regime to sanctions and isolation.
Will South Africa step up to confront Netanyahu’s challenge?
– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com