Brown seeks solace…with the Israeli PM…
You have to feel a little sorry for Gordon Brown (well, you don’t have too but you get my point), battered from pillar to post whatever he does (if he endorses the England cricket team he is cursing them, if he doesn’t congratulate them he’s being too stoic) and now he has to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. A man who, if accounts are to be believed, will nod politely at everything you say and then blatantly ignore you and do the opposite. The Conservatives accuse Labour of presiding over a ‘Britain of two nations’; Netanyahu on the other hand has to deal with two nations which he can’t reconcile so maybe they will find some empathic common ground on that score.
Israel has mastered the art of acknowledging what the international community says but doing nothing about it and if all else fails you can always intellectually slander and stigmatise your critics as ‘anti-semites’. A good article shows how pointless this meeting actually is; Israel will continue to defy Brown and the rest of the international community and build it’s illegal settlements. It’s something of a viscous circle (something Brown is gaining intimate experience of), the international community tells Israel it should obey the norms of international law (which it should); Israel nods politely (or sometimes gives a two fingered salute) and then promptly proceeds to do nothing because normal trade in everything including the weapons which guarantee it’s position continues.
Nick Clegg was entirely right to call for the end of the arms trade with Israel because, frankly, a move of that dramatic nature is the only kind of language Israel will understand and actually may, just may, force it to change it’s behaviour and comply with international law. Without that threat of substantive action today’s conference is pointless, a meeting of two talking heads. Peace will not come in the Middle East until there is equivocation and even-handedness by the international community and that has to come in words and deeds.