Why global gov­ern­ments have not turned on Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

IS­RAELI DIPLO­MATS and govern­ment officials have ex­pressed sur­prise that the global me­dia cov­er­age of the secenes of devastation in Gaza have not sparked a diplomatic back­lash and pres­sure on Is­rael to im­me­di­ately end its ground op­er­a­tion in Gaza.

“Af­ter the pic­tures from Shu­jaiyeh and Khan You­nis and the re­ports of UNRWA schools at­tacked, you would have ex­pected a lot more pres­sure on Is­rael,” said one diplo­mat, who added that “of course, a lot of the de­tails re­ported were un­true or in­ac­cu­rate but that didn’t change any­thing in the past”.

So far the diplomatic pres­sure on Is­rael has amounted to a very mild ex­pres­sion of con­cern from the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, a tense phone-call be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama — the de­tails of which are hotly con­tested in the lo­cal me­dia — and a de­ci­sion by the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil (UNHRC) to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged Is­raeli war crimes. Since the UNHRC is widely seen as a body in­her­ently hos­tile to Is­rael, the Is­raeli govern­ment is not un­duly con­cerned about these de­vel­op­ments.

There are a num­ber of rea­sons why Is­rael feels that it has lee­way from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to ex­pand op­er­a­tions in Gaza if it so chooses.

For a start, by turn­ing down the orig­i­nal E g y p t i a n cease­fire — ac­cepted by Is­rael and en­dorsed by the Arab League — Ha­mas has iso­lated it­self.

This has made it dif­fi­cult for other in­ter­na­tional ac­tors to pres­sure Is­rael to go be­yond the Egyp­tian pro­posal.

Qatar and Turkey con­tinue to back Ha­mas, but ma­jor strate­gic shifts in the re­gion have com­bined to in­crease the ter­ror group’s iso­la­tion among Mid­dle Eastern and Euro­pean states. The rise of the Is­lamic State in Iraq, the ji­hadist threat to Europe and a new anti-ji­hadi coali­tion cen­tered around Egypt and Saudi Ara­bia — in which Is­rael is a silent ally — make it much harder to pres­sure Is­rael to “go easy” on the Is­lamist ter­ror out­fit in the Gaza Strip.

Other ma­jor is­sues such as Ukraine and now the grow­ing Ebola epi­demic in Africa have also drawn at­ten­tion away from the Gaza con­flict.

Is­raeli diplo­mats and spokes­peo­ple have said that de­spite the crit­i­cism of Is­rael in the world me­dia, “we are do­ing a bet­ter job now of putting our mes­sage across, and there is a grow­ing ope­ness to our nar­ra­tive as well as that of the Pales­tini­ans”.

In Lon­don alone, Am­bas­sador Daniel Taub and other Is­raeli rep­re­sen­ta­tives have given 60 me­dia in­ter­views over the past two weeks and the em­bassy has said that the at­mos­phere is not as bad as d u r i n g pre­vi­ous I s r a e l i o p e r a - tions.


Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu

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