Channelling a reckless Donald Trump, Israeli ministers appear to have adopted a dangerous mindset: to destroy the national aspirations of the Palestinians by military force
It is inexcusable for soldiers of a military, especially those under democratic civilian control, to shoot and kill protesters, almost all of whom were unarmed, and who pose no credible threat. Yet at the boundary between Gaza and Israel today Israeli soldiers seem to have done just that. It should make Israelis quail that demonstrators were sprayed with live ammunition with apparent impunity. There were dozens of deaths and hundreds of maimings among the Palestinians who had marched to the border to make a point about their right to return to their ancestral homes. Israel’s army evinced no shame in committing what looks like a war crime. These are serious accusations. Yet they were greeted with little more than a shrug. By blockading Gaza, Israel imprisoned 2 million people behind barbed wire and military towers. Israel treated the violence as a jailer might a prison riot: a tragic fault of the inmates.
This is a dangerous mindset for Israelis to embrace. Yet they have done so because the extreme right in Israel, and most of the present government ministers, nurture the idea that Israel can, through its vastly superior military force, end the national aspirations of the Palestinians. These politicians take succour from US president Donald Trump, who has made good on his promise to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Today Mr Trump’s ambassador, who gave money to Jewish far-right groups in Israel, opened his nation’s new embassy in Jerusalem. This is a reckless and provocative step that will harm the prospects for peace. Like the issue of refugees, settlements and borders, the status of Jerusalem is unfinished business. No state is internationally recognised as having sovereignty over Jerusalem. Its status was meant to be determined through negotiations.