The Iran case proves it: Sanctions will get Israel to end the occupation

The settlements are an all-Israeli project and the boycott can’t be limited to them.

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | 2 décembre 2013 |

It appears that international sanctions work and that a boycott is a tool like no other. Even Israel’s prime minister has admitted this; he has called on the world not to ease the sanctions and to even intensify them, and following his lead is the shrill U.S. Jewish lobby.

This being the case, the moral is clear: This is the way to act with recalcitrant states. This applies not only to Iran, where the theory is being proved before our eyes, but with another country that does not obey the decisions of the international community.

Israel has signed the Horizon 2020 agreement for scientific research with the EU barring funding from companies or institutions with ties to the settlements. This is irrefutable proof that a boycott threat works well with Israel, too.

The truth is hard to miss. By signing the agreement, Israel gave a hand to the first official international boycott of the settlements. There is no other way to portray this agreement, even including the special appendix that Israel added in protest. Israel, which passes indecent laws against calls for boycotts against it, surrendered and signed on to boycott terms when it began to be hit in the pocket.

Now we have a limited boycott and a harbinger of things to come. The negotiations over the agreement were conducted by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose office is located in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem. For some reason, the EU didn’t boycott her for this. Negotiations over funds trickling to the settlements are being conducted with a minister who, according to the entire world, has her office in a settlement on Jerusalem’s Saladin Street.

This absurdity reveals the hypocrisy of boycotting just the settlements. Every Israeli organization, institution or authority is somehow involved with what’s going on beyond the Green Line. Every bank, university, supermarket chain or medical institution has branches, employees or clients who are settlers. The settlements are an all-Israeli project and the boycott can’t be limited to them, just as the boycott of apartheid-era South Africa couldn’t be limited to the institutions of apartheid.

There everything was apartheid, and here everything is tainted by occupation. Israel funds, protects and nurtures the settlements, so all of Israel is responsible for their existence. It’s unfair to boycott just the settlers. We’re all guilty. On the other hand, boycotting all of Israel is likely to morph into the rejection of its very existence, something most of the world justly does not want. Therefore, we should rejoice over the limited boycott even if it is tainted by double standards. We should draw lessons from it.

The success achieved with Iran must become the world’s road map in how to end the Israeli occupation and the denial of the Palestinians’ rights. The outline is clear. We have had a failed diplomatic effort and decades of the “peace process,” the longest in history. We have had endless peace plans buried in drawers, while Israel has continued to build without restraint in the settlements in contravention of the world’s position.

So the time has come for sanctions. When these are felt in Israel, only then should an international committee be formed, whether in Geneva, Jerusalem, Oslo or Ramallah, where the world will translate economic sanctions into political achievements.

This worked with Iran, and it will work with Israel and prevent bloodshed. There’s no reason to continue the masquerade of peace talks that, with the exception of one American, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, no one takes seriously. Even he will eventually come around because as long as Israelis don’t pay a price for the occupation or are blind to it, they won’t end it. That’s the truth.

The truth is a bitter reality with which no Israeli can be happy. Disconnected from the international reality, most Israelis are convinced that the status quo where the people of one nation lack all rights while the people of another nation enjoy full rights can’t continue indefinitely. Maybe this will be the real historic achievement of the negotiations with Iran. It will be the last wake-up call for that sleeping beauty, Israel.