Any wager on a shift in American attitudes toward Israel or internationalization is a continuation of meaningless negotiation strategy. The basic principle is to think outside the scope of betting on Washington, and to regard internationalization as merely an old tool recycled, not an integral strategy; even adding popular resistance to it won’t make it a strategy.
The preoccupation is with who can change the American administration. The Obama administration, as it relates to the Israeli government, falls into the category of wishful thinking, counting on the reliability of what has previously failed.
The last Knesset elections have confirmed that the Israeli voter does not balk at bad relations with the United States. All the analyses of reasons for the great Benjamin Netanyahu’s success focused on the fact that most voter segments that were going to cast a ballot for those more radical than Netanyahu returned to him in order to prevent the victory of someone less radical (regardless of such a tenuous possibility).
On the other hand, we must remember that the U.S. provides Israel with three types of support and protection: political, military and economic. The Americans have asserted that they will support military security no matter what happens. While talks about the economy don’t exist, there are only whispers that the topic of settlements has been included among the discussions of U.S. loan guarantees to the Israelis, which will take place soon. Indeed, the fear is that Americans are moving toward the implicit adoption of Netanyahu’s policies about economic peace, bringing up economic initiatives here and there to numb the Palestinian public and its leaders by talking about the resumption of the transfer of taxes and bringing in investors. Politically, it was a discussion of human rights violations committed by Israel in the Human Rights Council in Geneva last Monday, an occasion which the Americans boycotted. They explained that this was a protest against the singling out of a particular clause in the discussion on Israel and that the boycott was advocating for the Israelis (rather than their absence being a defense of Israel, as analysts believed).
Thus the change in U.S. policy is still at an early stage. Meanwhile John McCain, leader of the Republican party and perhaps a presidential candidate, talks about the possibility of discontinuing financial backing of the United Nations if the decision is made to favor the demands of the Palestinians and a Palestinian state. He claims that this is in the powers of Congress, mostly talking about the Obama administration, which, in contrast, is not hindered by U.N. decisions about the Palestinian issue.
If this really happens, and Americans no longer block resolutions condemning Israelis nor impede upon Palestinian rights, then this change is really important. The U.S. administration has adopted a policy that conflicts with the previous official policies and commitments made by Washington with Israelis in return for entering negotiations. That is, Obama says that the commitments made to Israel by previous administrations, which prohibit use of the United Nations, were tied to entering into negotiations and peace agreements which the Israelis have now officially retracted, so the commitment has become nonexistent.
This retraction may be useful and exploitable, with the passing of new resolutions that confirm the illegality of settlements anywhere in the occupied territories of 1967, thus cutting off Israel’s attempts to market the idea of a legitimate settlement and other illegal things, with talks about settlement blocs remaining part of Israel in a political solution. Maybe issuing resolutions can help the so-called “isolation” of Israel, but all this will never be enough as a strategy.
When the Palestinian national movement began, represented by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its factions, that was in part an important announcement of despair over internationalization and official regulation policies, as well as hopelessness regarding the success of international organizations in granting the Palestinians their rights. Now, and in most cases, a new decision will not be issued by the United Nations with the strength of a resolution considered racist by the Zionist movement, which was adopted in 1975, then cancelled in conjuncture with the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. A decision loosely about a Palestinian state, with American and Israeli security and economic protection, will add practically nothing on its own.
The new Palestinian strategy really begins with rebuilding the Palestinian national movement and the PLO. It is this that decides the tools for new and suitable confrontation. This not only means an understanding between the “Fatah” and “Hamas” movements, but that the Palestinian people continue to be the most important consideration.
When we see the renewal of the PLO, we will know that there is a new strategy.