Israel’s perplexing hold over America allows it to treat global opinion with contempt

Yonden Lhatoo is struck by the influence Israel wields over the US and how that empowers its disdain for United Nations resolutions and the will of the world

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 7:02pm

What is it about Israel that entitles it to not only treat the collective will of the world with contempt and defy United Nations resolutions, but also make it sound like it’s everyone else’s fault?

This one little nation’s supreme sense of prerogative and immunity is on full display now as it chastises the 12 member-states of the UN Security Council who last week passed a resolution urging Israel to stop building settlements on Palestinian land, a long-practised illegal policy set to escalate under the most right-wing government in the Jewish state’s history.

The unthinkable happened, despite the stink that US President-elect Donald Trump raised against his own side at Israel’s behest.

Watch: UN demands end to Israeli settlements

What was remarkable – apart from Trump upending protocol as an incoming president to interfere and undermine the incumbent – was that the US chose to abstain from voting, rather than dutifully veto the resolution. President Barack Obama broke with decades of tradition in refusing to kowtow to America’s Best Friend Forever in the Middle East.

If this is a natural culmination of the off-and-on feud between Obama and ultra-hardline Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, I’d still hold off on lionising the first such display of guts – even if only in parting – by an American president.

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The fact is Obama has done more to mollycoddle Israel at the UN than any of his predecessors, and holds the dubious distinction of gifting the Jewish state with its biggest military aid package ever.

The UN resolution is also toothless lip-service in essence, as it carries no consequences such as sanctions. Netanyahu has already made it abundantly clear he’ll just ignore it, which makes you wonder why all the magnified petulance when it’s going to be business as usual anyway.

He’s a real bundle of joy, that man, by the way. Just look up on YouTube his speech at the UN General Assembly last year, when he spent a full 45 seconds – without uttering a word – staring down the audience of global leaders to express his displeasure at their “failure” to “protect” Israel from Iranian “threats”.

Watch: Netanyahu stares down global leaders at UN

Speaking of which, how manifestly unfair that Iran, a nation which has yet to develop a nuclear weapon and denies having any such ambition, is vilified as the “biggest threat” to the planet, while Israel is not, armed to the teeth as it is with a nuclear arsenal big enough to wipe the entire Middle East and more off the map.

An ill wind is blowing towards that region, courtesy of Trump, who has promised that “things will be different” after he’s sworn in.

He’s already picked a bull in a china shop for the post of US ambassador to Israel – David Friedman, an extremist who appears to have no qualms about facilitating a stateless, dystopian, apartheid-style future for the Palestinians. Even before taking up his new post, Friedman has vowed to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he considers Israel’s “eternal capital”. So much for the peace process.

Analysis: Netanyahu, at odds with the world over settlements, is pinning his hopes on Trump

The only hope against hope in this sorry scenario is that the many Jewish people who genuinely crave a lasting peace will somehow, some day, impose their will on an Israeli government that is not accountable to anyone else.

By the way, have you noticed that Trump can get away with trashing anyone and anything, but there is a red line even for the likes of him when it comes to the sacred cow that is Israel?

That kind of unquestioning subservience can be expected of the US Congress, which has been described on occasion as “Israeli-occupied territory”, but when even Trump’s twitchy-fingered tweeting falls in line, it makes you wonder who really rules the roost.

Yonden Lhatoo is a senior editor at the Post