The Jordan Times
July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel’s arrogant defiance of the US, its main ally and supporter, over the construction of yet another Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem has no easy or immediate answers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of Washington’s demands that it cease and desist from building yet another housing project in the heart of East Jerusalem is unprecedented and provocative. Never before has the Jewish state provoked its closest ally to such an extent and gotten away with it.

The feud between Israel and the US over continued Israeli settlement programmes in the Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem, has been brewing for some time, especially since US President Barack Obama assumed his official duties in the White House over six months ago, with the new US administration repeatedly calling on Israel to stop its colonisation projects. Ever since, Netanyahu has been openly defiant with regard to this demand.

So why is Netanyahu so arrogantly defiant and seems not to care less about what the Obama administration insists on as a bare minimum to resuscitate the stalled peace process?

The Israeli leader must have been counting on something when he decided to take on the US president over this politically charged dispute. Is Netanyahu counting on the US Congress to come to the rescue of his country if push comes to shove?

Israel has many friends in the US Congress on both sides of the aisle and maybe that is what Netanyahu is counting on.

The US, however, would not only lose face but also prestige should it succumb to Netanyahu’s blackmail. The US president must make this Israeli challenge a testing ground for his influence and strength. Should he lose this “battle” with Netanyahu, he may never rise again from his defeat.

Israel still clings to its false dream that East Jerusalem is a lawfully annexed territory despite the fact that the international community has adopted a series of resolutions calling this annexation null and void.

Israel’s defiance of the UN is also unparalleled in the history of the international organisation. Calling the entire city of Jerusalem its eternal and undivided capital against the will of its Palestinian residents and the entire international community requires an international reaction that is swift and forceful. Israel does not understand any other course. Now is the time to stop this Israeli defiance and the US is well placed to spearhead this international action.


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