Its plans to divide the occupied territory in half have provoked an international outcry
JERUSALEM ― Israel has suddenly found itself thrust into a diplomatic crisis.
International outcry is mounting in reaction to Israel’s announcement that it would permit the building of 3,000 housing units in an area called E1. If completed, the development would divide the West Bank in half.
“We deplore the recent Israeli government decision to build 3,000 new housing units and unfreeze development in the E1 block. This threatens the viability of the two state solution,” The British Foreign Office said in a statement. “Any decision about any other measures the UK might take will depend on the outcome of our discussions with the Israeli government and with international partners including the US and European Union.”
In almost every European capital, from Stockholm to Paris and extending even to Moscow, Israeli ambassadors were called to hear angrily-worded rebukes by foreign ministries.
For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this latest crisis comes at a critical moment. He faces elections on Jan. 22, and is trying to consolidate his personal power base in the face of an extreme right-wing list of candidates from his own party, the Likud. In addition, he has joined forces with his hard-line foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who represents an even more extremist party.
The announcement that planning for the controversial housing development would be given an OK may have been a nod in the direction of these political menaces.
But, coming Friday, one day after the UN General Assembly voted to grant Palestine an enhanced status, non-voting observer member state, which Israel had decried as a unilateral move and a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords, it is widely seen as retribution against the Palestinian government.
There is “a feeling of crisis,” a source in Israel’s foreign ministry told GlobalPost.
Only two weeks ago, Netanyahu portrayed the international support granted to Israel during the Gaza incursion as a personal achievement, underscoring his close coordination with the administration of US President Barack Obama. Netanyahu had been widely criticized for all but openly supporting the candidacy of Mitt Romney during the US election, and presented the US-negotiated cease-fire agreement as evidence of the close working ties between Israel and the United States.
“I told quite a few people we were treading on thin ice,” a diplomatic source distressed by the current development said. “I kept telling everyone who was so pleased about the diplomatic support we got during operation Pillar of Defense that this was very thin ice, and you know you’ve gone too far only when you find yourself in icy water.”
Netanyahu, who has a brusque personal style more appealing in Israel’s rough-and-tumble political fray than in the diplomatic corridors of Europe, is not popular in international diplomatic circles.
For many Israeli right-wingers, convinced that the world opposes Israel without criterion, that reputation serves Netanyahu as a credential of his tough stance. On the other hand, having spent much of his youth and early adult years in the United States, he is also known in Israel for his polished English and American airs.
Only one European nation supported Israel’s position at the United Nations ― the Czech Republic. This has lead a growing number of Israelis to ask, as did the diplomatic correspondent on Channel 10 news, about “Netanyahu’s message failure and his policy failure” in ratcheting up the Palestinian resolution to such importance, while apparently making no plan to move forward in the aftermath.
There are growing concerns in Jerusalem that the prime minister’s office may be confusing success in some of its messaging with support for its policies.
More Related Stories
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- Judge tells lesbian couple to separate -- or lose kids
- Obama to address drones, Guantánamo
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- Portland's senseless war on fluoride
- Graphic video reportedly shows possible London machete attack suspect
- What economists get wrong about the jobs crisis
- Ted Cruz: "I don't trust the Republicans"
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- Glenn Beck: "The American people have just been raped"
- "Original Coca-Cola had a very small amount of cocaine"
- Corporations accused of wrongdoing win battle to keep identities secret
- Weak, incompetent Democrats blow another one
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Cyber attacks could cause the next world war
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- Biden cracks Obama teleprompter joke
- IRS official takes the Fifth: "I have not done anything wrong"
- Lessons from Lincoln leave gay immigrants behind
- Los Angeles elects first Jewish mayor
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Salon is proud to feature content from GlobalPost, an awarding-winning international news site that focuses on original reporting from journalists stationed around the world. GlobalPost combines traditional journalistic values with the power of new media to offer a fresh perspective on global developments.