The infantile response from the US and Israel to the decision by UNESCO to give full membership to Palestine is astounding.
The Israelis have frozen the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority, worth about $100 million a month, and say they will speed up settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The US is to stop funding to the UN cultural and scientific organization. Meanwhile, hackers cut the Palestinian Internet and phone systems.
This is the sort of behavior to be expected from spoiled brats, not responsible governments — not that any notion of responsible behavior could ever be applied to the Israeli government; and certainly not one run by Benjamin Netanyahu. In this case, the UNESCO decision is simply being used as an excuse to yet again hit the Palestinians. More specifically, it is an excuse to build more illegal settlements. Not that they have needed excuses.
As to the attack on the Palestinians’ Internet system, it is sheer petty-minded hooliganism and shows the depths to which the Israelis will stoop. But it is Washington’s response that really shocks. It shows the absolute fanaticism of its opposition to Palestinian statehood. It shows too, with blinding clarity, the total lack of principle in the White House.
President Barack Obama likes to present himself as a moral force in American politics. But where is the morality in Washington’s Middle East policies? We have seen the US president stating that the Palestinians must have a state of their own but changing his mind when the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took him at his word and said he would request recognition from the UN. Washington plans to veto the application when it goes to the Security Council, probably on Nov. 11. It also threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinians if they so much as dared pursue their statehood objective at the UN. Presumably in Obama’s mind, the UNESCO move is linked to the Security Council vote. If so, that is ridiculous and infantile. UNESCO is a cultural and heritage organization. If the US opposes PA membership of something so anodyne, there is no way it is ever going to recognize the Palestinians’ right to a state of their own — certainly not without Israel’s approval. We dread to think what would happen if the PA were given membership of the World Bank or the IMF.