Israel: Losing Friends by the Hour

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The Israeli Government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems to be on a one way ticket to oblivion. His right-wing hawkish stances are jeopardizing peace in a region where the Arab Spring is still going strong heading into autumn. To make things worse, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been protesting Israel’s socio-economic problems.

The  UN recently released its  report into  Israel’s raid of the Gaza-bound ship in which nine Turkish demonstrators were killed last year. The 105-page  report stated that  Israel’s actions were “excessive and unreasonable.” Turkey has since downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel, expelling the Israeli ambassador and suspending military co-operation between the countries because of the lack of an apology from the Netanyahu Government. Turkey has been at peace with Israel since 1948.

On another front, the Arab Spring has so far seen the overthrow of several long time autocracies including that of long time Israeli ally Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Most Egyptians are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, but still recognize Israel’s right to exist and have no desire for confrontation unless provoked.

Two weeks ago while chasing down Palestinian militants, the IDF accidently killed four Egyptian soldiers and police officers patrolling the border. Egypt recalled their ambassador to Israel in response putting a strain on a peace agreement in effect since 1979’s Camp David peace treaty. The damage could yet be worse if Israel’s perceived aggression plays out in Egypt’s upcoming elections.

Israel’s tangible rapport with Syria will end as soon as President Bashar al-Assad goes down the same road as Mubarak. He has no love for Israel, but he has been a force for stability on Syria and Lebanon’s border with Israel. This leaves only Jordan with a strong peace treaty and even that is a little shaky.

The UN vote on a Palestinian State should take place on Sept 20th

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right wing coalition is moving closer and closer to bringing the country back decades in foreign policy and all on the heels of a vote on Palestinian Statehood at the United Nations.

Netanyahu is of course vehemently against a UN vote and says that if they dare to take their case to the United Nations he may declare the Oslo agreement of 1993 null and void, meaning they would be enemies once again. People don’t remember the noteworthy aspect of that agreement; Israel had recognized Palestinian rights and the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist. I can’t help but ponder how many of Israel’s current problems would be helped by a “Yes” vote… of course that’s only if Israel acknowledges it.

The truth is, Netanyahu would rather sacrifice years of progress by maintaining the status quo in order to keep the settlers and religious base happy. His ideology is now starting to weigh in on the domestic side as well; his Tea Party-style economics are driving hundreds of thousands into the streets in protest.

A half-million people took to the streets on Saturday in various Israeli cities to complain about huge housing prices, privatization (Israel’s once heavily state-run economy has been heavily privatized) and government pervaded commercial corruption. The protests are going into their third month with nothing more than a non-binding inquiry into the country’s domestic problems.

It would seem to me that Netanyahu is doing everything in his power to avoid peace when it is clearly in his best interest (and everyone else’s for that matter). Imagine taking all that money in aid and investing it in its own people instead of bombs, fences and illegal settlements. They have yet to truly acknowledge this point, but I wonder how many of those protesters realize it.

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