Once again, the talks between Israel and Palestine are reported to be ‘in crisis’. This time around, Israel is refusing to release a tranche of prisoners that they previously agreed to, apparently on the basis that the Palestinians haven’t yet agreed to continue talks afterwards. Secretary of State John Kerry is now flying over to try and bring the sides together and reach a resolution – which will no doubt involve the Palestinians having to give in and the Israelis being allowed to do whatever they please, like all of the other US-brokered solutions to the crisis.
The prisoner release is only the latest in a very long line of promises that Israel has made and then broken, in between a whole host of UN resolutions and international judgements that they have also ignored. Most of these have, of course, centred around the separation wall that divides Palestinians from their own land and essentially creates a new de facto border for the state of Israel, as well as forcing Palestinians to submit to being treated like cattle every time they wish to cross the wall. Other rulings have related to the numerous settlements that Israel has set up in the West Bank in an attempt to annex Palestinian land for themselves – despite almost every legal authority on the planet making it clear that such settlements are completely illegal, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (beyond the occasional symbolic removal of settlers to make it look like they are complying with international law).
The USA enables this behaviour on the part of Israel, and this is no doubt what Kerry will do again this time. No matter how much of the international community stands against Israel’s crimes, nothing can be done about them because of America’s opposition to taking any action. The US wants to keep Israel firmly on its side for geopolitical reasons – specifically because it’s practically the only state in the entire Middle East where the majority of the population doesn’t actively despise America – and is consequently happy to ignore the multiple human rights violations that are occurring on a regular basis because of that state’s actions.
In fact, the case of Israel is perhaps the clearest example of the hypocrisy of the human rights discourse coming from the western countries, and the US in particular. Whenever a particular element of geopolitics turns against them – such as the situation right now in Ukraine and Crimea – the US is quick to shout that basic human rights are being ignored and abused. However, when it comes to America’s allies, suddenly even worse abuses become tolerable, and the people being abused must make concessions and negotiate with the country that is terrorizing them. The situation for the Palestinian people is undoubtedly much worse than that of a fixed but peaceful referendum in southern Ukraine, and yet we let it continue – this is the kind of hypocrisy that makes the rest of the world look down on the US and Western Europe.
It’s time for all of us to start actually adhering to the human rights doctrine that we claim to uphold. It’s time for all of us to stand up for the poor and oppressed of the world, rather than supporting their oppressors because they have money and are ‘strategically important’ to us. It’s time for all of us to put convenience aside and focus more on truth. And it’s time for all of us to support the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and freedom from the colonial status that Israel puts them under.