Jonathan Cook writes: The 24-hour visit by German chancellor Angela Merkel to Israel this week came as relations between the two countries hit rock bottom. According to a report in Der Spiegel magazine last week, Ms Merkel and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been drawn into shouting matches when discussing by phone the faltering peace process.
Despite their smiles to the cameras during the visit, tension behind the scenes has been heightened by a diplomatic bust-up earlier this month when Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament and himself German, gave a speech to the Israeli parliament.
In unprecedented scenes, a group of Israeli legislators heckled Mr Schulz, calling him a “liar”, and then staged a walkout, led by the economics minister Naftali Bennett. Rather than apologising, Mr Netanyahu intervened to lambast Mr Schulz for being misinformed.
Mr Schulz, who, like Ms Merkel, is considered a close friend of Israel, used his speech vehemently to oppose growing calls in Europe for a boycott of Israel. So how did he trigger such opprobrium?
Mr Schulz’s main offence was posing a question: was it true, as he had heard in meetings in the West Bank, that Israelis have access to four times more water than Palestinians? He further upset legislators by gently suggesting that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was preventing economic growth there.
Neither statement should have been in the least controversial. Figures from independent bodies such as the World Bank show Israel, which dominates the local water supplies, allocates per capita about 4.4 times more water to its population than to Palestinians.
Equally, it would be hard to imagine that years of denying goods and materials to Gaza, and blocking exports, have not ravaged its economy. The unemployment rate, for example, has increased 6 per cent, to 38.5 per cent, following Israel’s recent decision to prevent the transfer of construction materials to Gaza’s private sector.
But Israelis rarely hear such facts from their politicians or the media. And few are willing to listen when a rare voice like Mr Schulz’s intervenes. Israelis have grown content to live in a large bubble of denial. [Continue reading…]
As the world turns. Israeli leaders are learning that they cannot continue lying or denying the treatment of the Palestinians as if nobody can see what’s taking place. I wonder if the common population of Israelis understand and if they are/will be able to withstand the coming trials and tribulations that their leaders are laying at their doorstep?
Jonathan Cook –one of the real voices regarding the continuing saga of the Middle East’s only democracy.Super post!
Angela Merkel, I would suspect, reasserted her previous caveat while visiting Netanyahu and the Knesset-“ choose between isolation as an apartheid outcast, or acceptance in accord with democratic principles.” With a representation and conclusion to Peter Falk’s chronicles Israel’s human rights abuses in the news; the rants and rhetoric from with in Israel,- sermons from the bully pulpit, are just more ugly propaganda to say the least.
Yet, a few members of the U.S. congress, thinking that “ it would send a clear message of U.S. support to Israel.” feel Netanyahu should be invited to address a joint session of Congress when he visits Washington next month.
I am a loss for words to express what such an idea and for what purpose that it implies. But I” start with that it is an insult to the honored hall of Congress, past foreign dignitaries who have been previously invited and to the American people goes without saying.