As predicted, some effects of last year’s historic vote in favor of Palestine attaining “observer status” at the UN are already bearing fruit. As i recall, the entire center and right all claimed that the landslide victory for Abbas and the people of Palestine “wouldn’t change a thing”. They were wrong in more ways than one.
First, as expected, Netanyahu immediately announced new building contracts in the settlement areas of the West Bank. i’m sure than this came as no surprise to anyone at all on either side of the wall. And, while nearly any Israeli Prime Minister would likely have done the same, Bibi’s obligatory, knee-jerk reaction of accelerating settlement-building was a risky bet: he was hoping that, as usual, the backlash would be limited to the bleeding hearts in Tel Aviv and Europe. He was wrong.
Adding insult to injury, perhaps still feeling empowered by his Fearmongering: Iran speech (complete with illustration) at the UN earlier this year, Netanyahu even had the nerve to no-show the United Nations’ periodic review on human rights. To be sure, this act of belligerence in and of itself was not extraordinary – after all, they’re only following our example of: being the lone veto at the UN; abysmally failing human rights on the international level; failing to adhere to international law; and even skirting World Court decisions. Whether Netanyahu overplayed his hand, whether he couldn’t read the tea leaves correctly, or whether the recent UN bitchslap was simply longer in coming than some may have anticipated, his political instincts at this moment in time are none too sharp. Rather than appearing as a confident leader secure in his position, he comes off more as a man who’s teetering on cusp of his own undoing. It’s one thing to tell the whole world to fuck off – even your sponsor of patronage – when you have an ace up your sleeve; it’s another thing completely if you’re out of aces, out of tricks, and out of favor with the sitting US President.
Then, too, was the recent Israeli sacking of a purported Hezbollah convoy of arms just inside Syria, another miscalculation. According to recent press reports, “most analysts” agree that the strike was a “calculated risk” that Netanyahu took, against the lesser odds of a Syrian retaliation amid their own, obvious problems at the moment. Here, Bibi is only half-right. No, Damascus won’t likely do anything even half as foolish as say, lobbing a single cruise missile over the border. What Israel had better brace itself for is an old-school, class-A, bona fide “terror” strike, courtesy of either Hezbollah – or perhaps a revenge assassination or two on behalf of the Mukhbarat, Syria’s much-feared intelligence agency. Note the quotation marks around the word “terror”. In reality, it would in truth be an attack of retaliation, which, if proportional, normally falls within the legal bounds of international law. Silly distinctions. Anyways, what you, dear reader, would likely witness would be some CNN mock story that showed you one more instance of bad behavior on behalf of Assad – and they’d likely hold the story back for a week or two – so, by that time, most casual viewers and American voters would hardly remember the inciting incident – the Israeli strike on the alleged convoy.
Back to the recent UN bitchslap –
What can we make of this – is this merely another worthless UN finding, another toothless vindication? Or could it be something more?
As i’ve said elsewhere, in politics (and it’s always all politics), it’s all about timing, timing, timing. The Window of Opportunity. And if this window has ever been fatefully flung open for the Palestinians, it’s now. Strike while the iron’s hot. And of course, the incident of interest must be weighed against the backdrop of everything else that has recently led up to it. Given that Abbas is still fresh off his recent 138-9 victory at the UN; given the very serious, yet then-dismissed Goldstone Report; given the recent international wave of opposition that gained steam during the Mavi Marma Turkish flotilla incident; and given the recent shift in perception toward Israeli atrocities, even moderately evidenced in the mainstream media – in an underdog-upset-type of reversal, it almost seems as if nothing can stop Palestine’s momentum.
As for the finding – well, it’s no ruling; it’s not legally binding, of course. If would be more so, if it were issued by the Security Council – and it wouldn’t, because we just vetoed an otherwise-unanimous Security Council resolution condemning the settlements early in 2011. But it’s not toothless – it is my belief that it was designed to serve as a warning shot. This is the (rest of the) UN’s way of saying: “Look, we’ve tried to politely deal with this before, and this is our last warning. Maybe they (Palestine) will be successful at the ICC, and perhaps they won’t. But unless you want to tempt fate, now is the time to start dialing it back.” The ICC has already publicly stated that, in light of the recent and successful UN bid for “observer status”, they are now willing to reconsider Palestine’s demands for an investigation.
A new awareness has finally cast itself upon the world. While it’s still terribly difficult to imagine justice coming to Palestine, it’s now a scant possibility. A mustard seed. A glimmer. Injustice can thrive, it can breed, it can destroy, but it can’t live on forever. It can only fester for so long as it lies undetected.