The international community is highly unlikely to pressure Israel to end the occupation. Both the U.S. and Europe are expanding cooperation and aid, and refuse to use bilateral ties as leverage to change Israeli policy. A solution must come from Israelis or Palestinians or both; the outside world has an auxiliary role, at best
One of the growing signs of pessimism regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the belief of many activists that only external pressure on Israel can lead to a just solution. This is the premise of a wide spectrum of efforts, from those calling for mild pressure and diplomatic initiatives, to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The latter often points to the example of South Africa, where sanctions and international isolation contributed to the demise of the Apartheid regime.
Beyond the questions of principle and justice, which are certainly relevant, one must also address the issue of efficacy. Do we have any reason to believe that international pressure on Israel, let alone sanctions, is at all likely? There is an abundance of evidence that points to an emphatically negative answer.
The most important international actor today is, of course, the United States. That country also happens to be Israel’s staunchest ally. Instead of growing more critical of the occupation as it nears the end of its first half century, Washington is ever less likely to oppose Israel’s policies, let alone pressure its government. After some half-hearted attempts at (very mild) pressure during the beginning of his term, the Obama administration has quickly retreated to a position of unquestioning support, lavishing Israel with aid and cooperation. While Washington’s positions on the Palestinian issue have not really changed, using its leverage against Israel in any way is not really on the agenda.
So maybe Europe is the answer? Although not as important as the United States, Europeans’ extensive commercial and cultural ties with Israel provide them with significant tools to apply pressure, if they choose. Certainly, European countries have been far more willing to harshly condemn Israel’s actions and policies than recent American administrations.
But over the past two decades (at least) they have clearly made a strategic choice to move in the opposite direction. Instead of holding relations with Israel hostage to progress on the Palestinian issue, they have decided to largely plough ahead with strengthening ties. Their hope is that...Read More