Avineri: Israel behavior in sharp break with past

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The Israeli government’s rapid expansion of settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the wake of the UN vote on Palestine has alarmed Israel’s allies in the United States and Europe and represents a sharp break with Israeli foreign policy strategy in the past, argues Shlomo Avineri in Haaretz:

In responding to the UN vote on Palestinian statehood, the government’s decision to build in E-1 and in East Jerusalem is the exact opposite of the underlying principles of how Zionist and Israeli international policies have evolved over the years. When Israel wins broader and deeper international support, it can achieve its aims, and when it is isolated it fails to achieve them.

What the government is doing now is not successfully challenging the Palestinian leadership. Rather it is engaging in unnecessary quarreling with Israel’s supporters in the democratic world – the United States and the European countries. It is not enough to think you are right and to convince your supporters of that: In the cruel world of international politics, a small nation can achieve its aims only if it is able to forge alliances with the powers-that-be and to ensure their support – not out of love, but because they are convinced there is congruence between their countries’ interests, or their leaders’ considerations, and the aims of, in this case, Zionism and the State of Israel. […]

Without going into the issue now of whether it would have been possible to have avoided the diplomatic defeat in the UN General Assembly, what the government has been doing in the period since then is not damage control but rather exacerbating it. Just weeks after the United States and the European countries showed understanding for Israel’s actions vis-a-vis Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the government is taking decisions that are deepening not only the rift with the Palestinians (and there may be those in the government who are interested in that ), but also creating a rift with the countries that are most friendly to Israel […]

There have never been leaders who have steered the Zionist wheel of state entrusted to their hands so irresponsibly.

(Photo: An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man pushes a shopping cart past a construction site in Gilo, a Jewish settlement that Israel erected on land it captured in the West Bank in a 1967 war and annexed unilaterally as part of its declared capital Jerusalem December 20, 2012. In a rare move on Wednesday, all but one of the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council made statements at the United Nations opposing Israeli plans to expand Jewish settlements around Jerusalem after the United States repeatedly blocked attempts to take stronger action. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.)