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A politics of deceit: Israel and US annexation of Palestinian lands

By Stuart Rees - posted Friday, 26 June 2020

In response to Israel's intention to annex up to 30% of the West Bank, respect for truth, by all the parties involved, Israeli, Palestinian, US, European and Australian, has been replaced by calculations about the benefits of deceit.

Passed off as politics and diplomacy, manipulative game playing is not new. In 1808, Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott warned of toxic consequences if lying and deceit became central to the conduct of relationships. 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.'

Scott's prophecy is still apt. The connotation 'annexation' might sound relatively harmless but disguises criminal intent. A forthright interpretation would insist that annexation means stealing or daylight robbery. It is difficult to imagine how 700,000 people can settle Palestinians' lands without knowing that their robbery was illegal.


Consequences of Impunity

Allowing Israeli impunity but denying this was happening has enabled any version of reality to be peddled. An international community has mouthed respect for human rights but ignored abuses, hence an amoral politics which teaches 'do what you can get away with.'

Amorality nurtures nationalism, authoritarianism and belief that legal and ethical principles don't exist because outcomes in personal and international relations must be determined by power. Kill whomever you like as long as the victims are individually weak and have no influential allies.

Endless negotiations, allegedly to achieve peace, have camouflaged Israel's impunity. WikiLeaks cables revealed that the peace process was a sham. Palestinians were badly represented. The Israelis did not take it seriously. US intermediaries pretended to be honest brokers but were partisan.

Israeli governments' claim they had no-one with whom to make to peace enabled them to behave as though they owned the moral high ground, a stance supported by a US/Israeli narrative which said that Palestinians had rejected generous offers of land.

Even as thousands of non-combatants, women and children were slaughtered in Gaza, or hundreds of protesters were killed by Israeli snipers during the 2018/19 Gaza demonstrations to mark the March of Return, claims persisted that Israel's army was the most humane in the world.


A Netanyahu wonderland story about the identity of Jews and Palestinians has also been concocted. A warm up introduction to that story says that West Bank land is disputed not occupied. President Trump's son-in-law, the real estate agent dressed as a peace negotiator, assumed an as-you-like-it role to contend that Palestinians were incapable of governing themselves. The most recent part of the story says that Palestinians have been invented, Jews are the real Indigenous people, the 2018 Jewish Nation State Law confirms that only Jewish people have rights to self-determination.

Hypocrisy and the Two State Illusion

Then comes the lame opposition to Annexation, in particular by the EU. That potentially influential organization opposes Annexation, warns of the consequences, but simultaneously remains Israel's largest trading partner, facilitates arms sales and welcomes Israeli services and products.

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About the Author

Stuart Rees is Professor Emeritus of the University of Sydney and Founder of the Sydney Peace Foundation. He is the former Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation (1998-2011) and of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (1988-2008), and a Professor of Social Work (1978-2000) at the University of Sydney.

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