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Settlement veto means “Obama has joined Likud”

“A friendly America should have mobilised to wean Israel of its addiction.”

Unlikely to reflect majority opinion in Israel, the Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy has heavily criticised the decision of the United States to reject a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories as an obstacle to peace.

Of the 15 Security Council members, the US was the only one not to endorse the resolution. It was the first time Barack Obama has used the veto during his presidency. On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama had promised not to play the veto card as George W Bush did.

Writing in Haaretz, Levy declares:

The first veto cast by the United States during Obama's term, a veto he promised in vain not to use as his predecessors did, was a veto against the chance and promise of change, a veto against hope. This is a veto that is not friendly to Israel; it supports the settlers and the Israeli right, and them alone.

Levy says Obama decision has condemned him to the "hawkish right" of Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, "somewhere between Tzipi Hotovely and Danny Danon". Hotovely, a former Israeli TV personality, is an emerging star of the religious right while Danon is one of Netanyahu's biggest critics from inside the party.

Levy adds:

A friendly US, concerned for Israel's fate, should have said no. An America that understands that the settlements are the obstacle should have joined in condemning them. A superpower that wants to make peace, at a time when Arab peoples are rising up against their regimes and against the US and Israel, should have understood that it must change the old, bad rules of the game of blanket support for the ally addicted to its settlements.

Levy is a hero of Israel's left, but dismissed by his critics as a propagandist for Hamas. Last September the Independent asked, Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?

For its part, the Israeli government insists that it did make serious concessions, freezing settlement-building for ten months from the end of November 2009 to the end of September 2010. That peace talks didn't begin until 1 September 2010 is proof, it says, that the Palestinian Authority is not fully committed to peace and that the call for a freeze was a mere diversion.

It's not a line that Levy buys:

A friendly America should have mobilised to wean Israel of its addiction. Only it can do so, and it should have started, belatedly, at the Security Council on Friday.

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