Should the international community turn Israel to a pariah state?

#CriticalThinking

Peace, Security & Defence

Picture of Hanny Caspi
Hanny Caspi

Founder and CEO, C-OP Ltd

Is Israel becoming the next pariah state? Sadly, the answer might be yes. The criticism, condemnations and trends to demonise and de-legitimise Israel, aided by misinformation and disinformation, are gaining popularity across all borders, states and beliefs.

Yet the question of whether Israel should become a pariah state is a different one, and should be tackled in the light of two significant factors: the characteristics of the state of Israel, and what would be achieved by isolating it.

Since its inception, Israel has been a democratic state, in its fundamental documents, its laws, its governmental structure and the values it is based on. Israel guarantees human rights, and its judicial establishments are liberal and their verdicts are famous as such worldwide.

Based on past experience, I have confidence that the road to a real solution must consist of mutual understanding

The criticism of Israel is rooted from the long conflict with the Palestinians. If examine Israel apart from this dispute, we will find an innovative state which has contributed a great number of inventions and technologies that have changed life for the better all around the world. Cellular phone technology, flash drives and cancer treatment technologies are just a few of the immense Israeli influences in all fields of daily life, and this is only the picture in a nutshell.

It is not only individuals; the Israeli government’s policy is to provide aid and immediate assistance to disaster-stricken areas, and Israel made the world’s largest per-capita contribution to halting the spread of Ebola. It also provides critical medical treatment to Palestinians, including relatives of PLO and Hamas leaders. It is an irrefutable fact that humanity has remarkably profited from Israeli innovations, and this fact must not be overlooked in the international court of public opinion.

However, Israel’s real face is hidden behind the heavy black curtain of the unresolved Palestinian conflict.

The ongoing strife between Israel and the Palestinians causes bloodshed and death on both sides. Israel exercises International Laws of Occupation on the 6,000 square kilometres of the West Bank, which has been under its control since 1967 – the area had earlier been annexed by Jordan, who relinquished their claim in 1988.

The Palestinians, whose claim for self-determination is just, authentic and legitimate, have not yet seen Israel fully withdrawn from the West Bank – in accordance with the 1993 Oslo I Accord. Palestinians have since only exercised self-government over part of the area.

Adamant positions statements by Israeli politicians, frequent confrontations with terrorism, settlement policies and inconclusive negotiations – all of these have intensified the conflict instead of resolving it. The conduct of both sides is not at all flawless, and it is undisputable that Israel is worthy of some criticism.

Can this bloody conflict be solved by pressurising Israel and isolating it? If the aim is a ploy to eradicate the only Jewish State, such action obviously crosses the line from fair to foul.

If, on the other hand, the aim is to assist the Palestinians in establishing their independent state, the consequences for the Palestinians must be taken into full consideration. Today, Palestinians benefit from the Israeli “Security Umbrella” that, along with its many disadvantages, still prevents the spread of terrorism and global Jihad in the West Bank. Israel departure from the West Bank as a result of its international isolation may jeopardise Palestinians themselves. Can we ensure that extremists in the region will not take control and impose a reign of terror, as has happened in Libya, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere? Can we guarantee the safety and welfare of those in a new state if radical Islamists come to power? Does a state led by extremists promote the interest of peace and stability?

Putting pressure on Israel by casting it aside as a “pariah state” would dramatically strengthen Israel’s adversaries

Moreover, it is beyond question that the Israelis have to make concessions, but so too do the Palestinians. For example, it is in their power to amend the Palestinian National Covenant to recognise the right of the Jewish State to even exist – not to mention the Hamas Charter which calls to the elimination of Israel – and to refrain from educating the young to hate Israel and dream of Israel’s disappearance.

Putting pressure on Israel by casting it aside as a “pariah state” works only on one side of the equation, and would dramatically strengthen Israel’s adversaries, who in turn will toughen their conditions and take the peace process a step backwards.

The key to ending the long-lasting struggle is in the hands of both sides. They should strive for reconciliation, mutual recognition and building trust. Afterwards, the path to a formal agreement and a terror-free life is short and simple.

Although Israel is depicted as an intransigent barrier to peace, Israel has signed a peace treaty with Egypt and returned occupied areas thrice its size. This was made possible due to a single element preceding the agreement: reconciliation. Anwar Sadat, then President of Egypt and the peace treaty architect, visited Jerusalem and recognised the right of Israel to exist. In doing so, he opened the door to direct negotiations and later to the signing of the peace treaty. King Hussein of Jordan took the same great steps.

Based on past experience, I have confidence that the road to a real solution must consist of mutual understanding and compromises. There must be less hostile ostracisms and boycotts, which I doubt – in face of the realities of the Middle East – would bring peace any closer.

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