Who can you trust?

From the standpoint of the Israeli public, the international community lacks commitment to the safety of the Jewish state.

Mashaal and Haniyeh at Gaza rally 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Mashaal and Haniyeh at Gaza rally 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do not bode well for peace, nor for the credibility of the international community. Let’s recap and then explain why.
The troubling series of events began in early November with the decision by Hamas to escalate its terror campaign against southern Israeli towns, which led to an intense eight-day rocket war along the Gaza border area. Israel successfully answered this aggression with precision targeting of Hamas cells and weapons stores, while defending its own citizens with the brilliantly designed Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Still, Hamas leaders declared “victory” simply for surviving. This presented a challenge to the Fatah cadres running the Palestinian Authority, who were viewed by their public as sitting on the sidelines in the “armed struggle” against the Jews. Their answer was to proceed with plans to seek an upgrade in status at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 – the anniversary of the adoption of the UN Partition Plan for Mandate Palestine in 1947.
The UN General Assembly, in turn, voted by a wide margin to grant nonmember observer standing to “Palestine,” which was defined by reference to the pre-1967 borders. Many European and other Western states voted in favor of this decision, arguing that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas needed a “victory” of his own to avoid appearing weak and irrelevant.
Abbas then indeed declared victory, but did so alongside Hamas, praising each faction for playing its part in standing up to Israel. The two bitter rivals used the occasion to move closer to reconciliation, granting reciprocal permission for Fatah to hold rallies in Gaza and Hamas to hold rallies in the West Bank for the first time in years.
In his maiden visit to Gaza for a 25th anniversary celebration of its founding, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told a mass rally that “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north.
There will be no concession on any inch of the land.
There is no legitimacy for Israel… We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders responded to the UNGA vote by giving initial approval to 3,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem and the territories, including the contentious E1 Corridor linking Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim. The houses may not be built for years, but the international community immediately jumped on the decision, scouring Israel for blocking the road to peace. Israeli diplomats were even summoned in European capitals for personal rebukes.
This led an exasperated Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to exclaim: “This weekend, the leaders of Hamas openly called for the destruction of Israel. Where was the outrage? Where were the UN resolutions? Why weren’t Palestinian diplomats summoned in European and other capitals to explain why the PA president not only refused to condemn this but actually declared his intention to unite with Hamas?” Good questions indeed! Through the UN General Assembly’s ill-advised vote and the imbalanced reaction to events since, the international community is wrecking chances for peace and undermining Israeli confidence in its ability to serve as honest brokers and guarantors of a viable solution to the conflict.
The UN vote was a reward for Palestinian obstinacy in refusing to enter direct talks with Israel. The Palestinians insisted the unilateral move was meant to preserve the two-state solution, but it was actually yet another attempt to avoid having to come to terms with the Jewish state – just like in 1947.
The General Assembly vote has also undermined respect for international law and signed agreements between the parties, such as UNSC resolution 242 and the Oslo accords. A number of states which voted for the resolution were actually mediators and signatories to agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, but they discarded their solemn obligations to Israel and the world.
This makes it all that much harder for Israel to trust the international community when it comes to third-party guarantees concerning the safety and future of the Jewish state.
World leaders have often portrayed Israel, and especially Netanyahu, as untrustworthy. But the opposite is proving true. From the standpoint of the Israeli public right now, much of the international community lacks any commitment to principles or promises made.
Parsons is media director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org