Thursday, February 20, 2020

Suddenly, Israel Is Not The One Being Isolated (Daled Amos)

Back in 2015, then-Secretary of State Kerry expressed his concern for Israel:
I fear that what could happen is if Congress were to overturn [the Iran Deal], our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed.
Of course, Kerry need not have bothered.

As we now know, Obama's deal with Iran succeeded to bring elements of the Arab world and Israel closer together in opposing both the deal and Iran as well.

But Netanyahu has, on his own, built alliances outside of the Mideast as well.

When the UN General Assembly voted in 2017 to overwhelmingly to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Israel found new allies to come to its aid:
Hungary in December abstained when the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The nation also joined the Czech Republic and Romania in blocking a European Union statement criticising Washington’s decision to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.
This did not go unnoticed.

In 2018, The German Institute for International and Security Affairs noted that this alliance was a sign of things to come:
Since 2017, relations between the Visegrád Group (V4) and Israel have been changing. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are increasingly developing shared views and values on international politics and show a greater willingness to cooperate economically. This coincides with growing European Union (EU) criticism of the Isra­eli government’s stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, the V4 states’ leaders do not necessarily share that criticism, and they have even aligned themselves with Israeli viewpoints on issues such as migration, security, and threat perceptions, all of which are disputed in the EU.
The group warned that the growing ties between Israel and the Visegrad Group could lead to internal divisions within the EU when it comes to its Israel policy.

Actually, this led to more than just divisions.

In November 2019, Netanyahu's alliance with Eastern Europe bore fruit again:
An effort to get all 28 European Union member states to issue a joint statement condemning the US decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements as illegal is being blocked by Hungary, according to a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the matter.
Because joint statements issued in the name of EU member states require unanimous agreement, the EU was reduced to a statement by then-EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, an admission that the EU was divided over the issue.

And just this month, the EU again failed to get a consensus when it tried to unanimously condemn Trump's peace plan:
The European Union’s statement on the US peace initiative on Tuesday, which the Foreign Ministry called a threat, was by High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell alone. However, Borrell had circulated a draft of the condemnation in hopes that it would be signed by all 27 member states.

The EU acts on its foreign policy by consensus, and had all of its member states agreed to the statement, it could have had far-reaching consequences, making it their united position in the UN and other international organizations. [emphasis added]
Another example of Israel's new-found friends is in connection with the ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda statement in December that there was enough evidence for an investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel. One issue that must be decided still is whether the court has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories.

On that issue again, Israel has allies that are coming forward:
Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic have asked the court over the past two weeks to let them file "amicus brief" opinions on the case, ICC records show.

Some said they would argue the court's jurisdiction did not extend to the Palestinian territories.

Brazil said it would argue the Israeli-Palestinian crisis should be resolved through political dialogue, not a court ruling.
Speaking of the Palestinian Arabs, there are some indications that despite their diplomatic successes up to this point, Abbas and the Palestinian Arabs may be becoming somewhat isolated themselves.

Last month, YnetNews reported Sidelined and isolated, Palestinians say disappointed in international community:
As dozens of world leaders converged on Israel for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum 2020, some Palestinians expressed frustration that only a few of these leaders would be visiting the Palestinian territories for a one-on-one meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

...Abbas has long sought international support. Back at the beginning of his presidency in 2005, he began to galvanize the international community for the Palestinian cause, and for a time, he gained momentum.

But Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, says that in recent years, Abbas’s popularity has declined and his approach has lost support.

“Most Palestinians believe this internationalization of the conflict has been a failure. In a sense, it hasn’t delivered. It didn’t influence the Israeli calculus in any effective way to stop settlements, or contribute to ending the Israeli occupation,” Shikaki says.
Another indication of Abbas's decline came this month at the UN, where he has usually been successful: Palestinians delay vote at UNSC against Trump’s peace deal
In a surprise move, the Palestinian Authority has delayed a scheduled UN Security Council vote on a resolution against the Trump administration’s peace plan. But the meeting will otherwise continue as scheduled.

...There was immediate speculation that the delay was a backhanded way of pulling the resolution because it lacked the requisite support of nine members for passage. Otherwise, it would have been considered that the resolution had failed.
Of course, US influence played a role as well, just as it has during the rest of Trump's term up to this point.

Trump's actions on behalf of Israel may not win him much in terms of the Jewish vote come November, but Israelis appreciate what he has done -- and hope he will be in a position to do even more for another 4 years.

Whether Netanyahu will be in a position to further strengthen and increase alliances, is, of course, another question altogether.

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