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Israel's Double Standard Illuminated by Opposition to Iran Deal

Crossposted on Tikkun Daily

By David Harris-Gershon (@David_EHG)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in his vociferous opposition to U.S. negotiations with Iran, has argued with particular force against the easing of international sanctions against Iran. His logic? No sanctions should be lifted until Iran abides completely by those international agreements it has been violating in the pursuit of nuclear advancement.

Israel's problem is that this is a similar argument many Palestinians and peace proponents have been making for years: that Israel should be pressured by the international community to forgo its settlement enterprise, deemed illegal by international law.

As Jodi Rudoren reports in The New York Times:

In some ways, Israel's approach to Iran has echoed arguments long made by its Palestinian adversaries. Over the past few weeks, Israeli leaders frequently said Iran must be forced to comply with United Nations resolutions and International Atomic Energy Agreements that it has been violating for years. Similarly, the Palestinians insist that Israel must live up to prior promises to evacuate settlements considered illegal under international law.

"It shows a double standard," said one senior Palestinian official involved in the talks, speaking on the condition of anonymity under an American dictate not to discuss them publicly. "If they expect to reach a solution in Iran by pushing more and more sanctions, why shouldn't they expect from our side to push for sanctions against Israel?"

This strange alignment - Israel's opposition to the Iran deal mirroring Palestinian opposition to Israel's geopolitical stances - has even inspired some to conclude that the interim deal struck with Iran could serve as a model for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations going forward.

One such person is Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's lead negotiator:

On Monday, Saeb Erekat, the lead Palestinian negotiator, called it a "unique precedent" and "platform" that should be applied to the peace process.

"What happened in Geneva is a new prototype where everybody has shared in reaching an agreement to avoid war and achieve stability," Mr. Erekat said in a statement. "We call upon the international community to make use of the same efforts in order to end decades of occupation and exile for the people of Palestine in order to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine."

Netanyahu's berating of President Obama on the phone, and Israeli officials' public condemnation of the Iran deal, may be playing well in the short term at home.

However, internationally, such opposition is doing nothing but strengthen the hand of those Middle East peace proponents who agree with Israel's approach: that pressure should not be eased against violators of international law until the violations stop.

Ironically, by opposing the Iran deal, Israel is supporting the notion that the only way to compel it to abandon the settlements and occupation is via international pressure.

Including sanctions.


David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld.

Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.

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