Israel’s international isolation grows

The international isolation of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a ferocious turn, with the US Senate majority leader Schuck Schumer the latest to publicly blast the man they call “Bibi”. Picture: Reuters

The international isolation of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a ferocious turn, with the US Senate majority leader Schuck Schumer the latest to publicly blast the man they call “Bibi”. Picture: Reuters

Published Mar 17, 2024


THE international isolation of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a ferocious turn, with the US Senate majority leader Schuck Schumer the latest to publicly blast the man they call “Bibi”.

The criticism by senator Schumer has been accentuated by the fact that he is the highest ranking Jewish legislator in the US.

Speaking from the senate floor this this week, Schumer called for fresh elections in order to oust Netanyahu from office. “The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7,” Schumer told the House.

He continued: “Five months into this conflict, it is clear that Israelis need to take stock of the situation and ask: Must we change course? At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy and open decision-making process about the future of Israel.”

Schumer added: “The world has changed radically since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past.”

These political developments are made more important in the light of Schumer’s Democratic Party credentials that has seen him become the most high-ranking Jewish in the US to come out with guns-blazing, pardon the pun.

Although the US foreign policy itself has been known to be cantankerous, the obstinacy of Netanyahu to refuse Washington’s advice amid his “genocidal” military operation in Gaza has put him on a collision course with the Biden administration.

The majority of international public opinion continues to call for a ceasefire. So far the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) continues to run amok across the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, where Israeli settlers have also waged a violent campaign against the Palestinians.

Israel continues to block aid trucks from entering Gaza from the Egyptian side, limiting the provision of aid to the starving population to minimum levels.

The UN has warned that Gaza is on the verge of famine. Rights groups have accused the Netanyahu government of weaponising food by a deliberate campaign of starving the besieged population.

In recent days, just over 25 children had died as a result of malnutrition in Gaza. More than 31 000 have been killed since Israel retaliated to a Hamas attack that killed more than 1 200 people. A recent Al Jazeera investigation claimed that some of the dead were in fact killed by the IDF, an embarrassing assertion that Tel Aviv has downplayed.

Thousands of Palestinians remain trapped under massive heaps of rubble from bombed buildings that include UN schools, refugee shelters, hospitals and residential buildings. The Gaza Health Ministry has recorded more than 72 000 cases of wounded people.

Israel’s standing before the international community is teetering towards becoming a pariah state. In January, South Africa successfully triggered the International Court of Justice at The Hague to order Israel to ensure that its actions did not constitute a “plausible” genocide.

The ICJ also ordered Israel as an occupying power to ensure that aid reached Gaza, an order the Jewish state blatantly ignored as it shells Gaza ceaselessly.

In Europe, Belgium has announced that it is heading to the ICJ to offer the court its definition of genocide. Like the majority of the nations of the world, Brussels believe that Israel is carrying out a brutal wave of violent extermination of the Palestinian people in Gaza. The genocidal intent of Israel has been communicated by the public statements of Netanyahu and other members of his war cabinet.

Public and private attempts by President Biden to convince Netanyahu to hold fire in exchange of a return of hostages Hamas took on October 7 have fallen on deaf ears.

On the contrary, Netanyahu has vowed to launch a ground attack on Rafah, where majority of Gazans – already displaced multiple of times – are seeking refuge.

The US and the UK, Israel’s staunchest allies, have expressed exasperation over Netanyahu’s ground invasion plans. The UN and human rights groups have warned of unprecedented mass murders if Israel attacks Rafah.

However, Netanyahu has vowed to carry out his threat regardless, counting on the support of extremists in the war cabinet.

The New York democratic leader Schumer did not mince his words this week, saying that Netanyahu has “lost his way”. He did so “by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel”, he said.

According to the White House, Netanyahu and his war cabinet ought to accept a UN resolution – supported by the majority of the international community – for a two-state solution.

However, Netanyahu wants to hear none of that. The other major point of divergence between Washington and Tel Aviv is on the “day after” scenario. Netanyahu wants Israel to retain control of security architecture over Gaza, a proposition vehemently opposed by the Arab world.

On the other hand, the Biden administration prefers to have a globally credible arrangement that would be acceptable across the spectrum. Such public disagreements have embarrassed President Biden and the Democrats.

The US is the main backer of Israel, supplying the bombs and bullets currently in use to extinguish the Palestinians. Washington is also the singular most power that provides diplomatic cover for Israel.

Since October 7, the US has blocked at least four resolutions of the UN Security Council that called for an immediate ceasefire. The US uses its veto power to block moves against Israel.

But out of growing frustration, the US recently opted to stop begging Israel to allow more aid trucks into Gaza. Instead, it has turned to alternative means to provide aid, including by joining forces with the Jordanian Air Force to air-drop aid into Gaza.

The US has also announced during President Biden’s recent State of the Union address that they are going to build an emergency pier to deliver aid from the sea.

International human rights bodies have strongly criticised the plans, alleging that countries that support Israel’s war on Gaza are desperate to be seen to be compassionate towards the people of Gaza.

Others have asked: If Netanyahu refuses to listen to President Biden and allow more aid trucks into Gaza, what makes Washington believe that Netanyahu will allow delivery of aid from the temporary pier?

According to Schumer, Netanyahu’s actions together with his far-right war cabinet members, Bezalel Smotrich (Finance Minister) and Atamar Ben-Gvir (National Security Minister) “are pushing support for Israel world-wide to historic lows”. Schumer warned: “Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.”

If Israel can be ditched by the US, it is goes without saying that all of the other secondary allies such as the UK, EU, Germany and Canada will also jump ship.

Besides, none of them will want to be on the wrong side of a new Washington foreign policy posture towards Israel. Additionally, when it comes to the US the foreign policy of most of its western allies is premised on the notion of “monkey-see, monkey-do”.

* Makoe is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Global South Media Network.