israel’s friends in high places blunting effect of bans: Analyst

Press TV has conducted an interview with Ian Williams, Foreign Policy in Focus from New York, about US Middle East envoy quitting his mission after peace talks between Palestine and Israel collapsed.

What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Martin Indyk has finally resigned but not after pointing to the extent Tel Aviv was responsible for the breakdown of the so-called peace talks. How can a new envoy work in this current atmosphere?


I was amused with the phrase that Europe was losing patience over the Israel settlements. This has been almost fifty years that Israel has been building settlements in defiance of international law and the European Union is losing patience. It should have of course lost patience long ago and it should have put more vigorous campaigning with definite sanctions on Israel for building settlements.

As it is, they are still toying with the idea that they can boycott produce from the settlements and that they can make warnings to companies. They should fine the companies. The companies are taking part in the crime against the Geneva Conventions. It’s as simple as that. All of the governments in the European Union recognize that the settlements are illegal. International Court of Justice has ruled that what Israel is doing there is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. It’s transplanting population, it’s deporting populations.

The time for losing patience is long gone. The patience should be lost and some vigorous and effective economic embargoes at least should be placed against Israel for its behavior in the settlements. You can’t separate Israel proper from what it’s doing in the settlements. It’s almost as though you are amputating the hand of the thief and exonerating the thief.

Press TV: Voices are getting louder against Israel’s policies and actions and of course its aggressive collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and all this because of Israel wanting to find three Israeli teenagers, why doesn’t Tel Aviv take such criticisms seriously?

Williams: I think what’s happened was the former labor government and more sophisticated Israelis were very clever at manipulating public opinion internationally. They would say, yes tut-tut and we have to, that they would make soothing noises.

But the problem with this diehard cabinet of aggressive Zionists and nationalists is they don’t really want to make apologies, so they have been very blunt about it. They are not really giving the European Union and even the more law-abiding American diplomats the excuses that they need to exonerate them. They have been blatant with it.

You know the idea that Kerry will go there and they almost inevitably announce it but a round of settlement building immediately afterwards. Any other statesmen, any other country would have been punished for this in loads of different ways but they have a sense of impunity and so far it’s a deserved sense because they are getting away with it.

Press TV: Very briefly, how much is Israel facing isolation in the international community?

Williams: There are serious strains. There are contracts that have been cancelled for the railway lines there, there are commercial companies that won’t operate in the occupied territories. There are Israeli imports which have been stopped because they are suspected of being from the settlements, there have hold up some grants but in the end they have so many friends in high places in Europe that somehow the effect of this displeasure is always blunted.

What we need, in fact, is people alot more vociferous like the European Union ambassador to Israel that we need more people like that in the policy making side of the European Union and the various capitals saying, “ No, this has got to stop”.

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