INTERNATIONAL CONSENSUS: USE IT OR LOSE IT

[Y]our governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing the UN General Assembly this week.

‘There’s just no appetite to go toe-to-toe with Israel and deliver a really harsh indictment’, said one European ambassador. ‘No one sees the upside to it’. . . .

Many EU member states have good and growing relations with Israel. Like Turkey, which last week agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year hiatus, they see a future of expanding business, trade and energy ties.

Whereas a few years ago Israel mostly had to rely on Germany, Britain and the Czech Republic to defend its interests in the EU, now it can count Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Hungary and a handful of others among potential allies.

At the same time, Netanyahu has bolstered relations with Russia, talks regularly about a ‘new horizon’ with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, especially when it comes to confronting Iran, and plays up Israel’s high-tech links to China, India and Africa, where Netanyahu is on a four-day visit.

‘Israel is effective at pulling the strings’, said an American official who has worked on Palestinian issues for the past three years. ‘However much frustration you feel on the ground, it doesn’t lead to action from the top’.

– Luke Baker, ‘Diplomatic ties help Israel defang international criticism‘, Reuters (5 July 2016)

Sooner or later, the time will come when even a switch in U.S. policy away from the rejectionism of the past years will be too late, either because the worst will have happened, or because Israel will be able to rely on its secret weapon to resist pressures to join the international consensus, or because the consensus itself will have eroded under the impact of U.S. power and the Palestinians will have gone the way of the American Indians.

– Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, Updated Edition (Montreal, New York and London: Black Rose Books, 1999), p. 468.

The legal consensus on Namibia . . . has provided a durable framework for the current negotiations and has contributed towards safeguarding some basic interests of the people of Namibia. Yet it should not be taken for granted. Law is not immutable. As long as the struggle for independence continues, South Africa and its allies will seek to undermine it. Namibia supporters should therefore not abandon the legal terrain. For despite its shortcomings, international law is playing and will continue to play an important role in the decolonisation of Namibia.

– Julio Faundez, ‘Namibia: The Relevance of International Law’, Third World Quarterly 8.2 (1986), pp. 557-58.

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