The international BDS movement, once derided as fringe, is now getting stronger to the point where Israeli politicians are blaming each other for its growing strength. Supporters draw parallels between South Africa's treatment of Blacks before the fall of apartheid and Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
It has grown to the point where US Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken out.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to unveil a framework for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians within weeks. Amid growing pressures from economic boycotts, Kerry said the current status quo in the West Bank is “illusionary” and unsustainable. He had warned Israel of a glum response should it reject his peace plan.
“For Israel, there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it,” Kerry told a security conference in Munich on Feb. 1. “There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”
On the other hand, American support for Israel has remained little changed despite the increased publicity for the BDS sanctions. Israel's favorability ratings here in the US have ranged anywhere from 66% to 72% over the last few years. This is much higher than any other country in the Middle East. Egypt (despite their political turmoil) and Saudi Arabia enjoy the next highest support.
The split in the Palestinian territories has led many to question whether a two state solution is viable or not. However, most people in both territories are still committed to the peace process with the other side, even in Gaza. However, there is a growing pessimism in Israel that a peace process will work. And people in Israel, the West Bank, and non-Jewish Israelis still support the two state solution. In Gaza, people are split on a two state solution. Large majorities of Jewish Israelis, non-Jewish Israelis, West Bank Palestinians, and Gaza Palestinians still eschew violence as a solution, contrary to popular belief.
One main obstacle to peace, according to Gallup polling, is mutual dislike of each other's leaders. Approval ratings for Bibi and Obama are 2% across the board in Palestinian territories. Approval ratings for Palestine's leaders among Israeli Jews is 1% to 2% and in the low 20's among non-Jewish Israelis. Another is the trust that people in both territories have in the US as an honest broker for peace. Only 8% of Palestinians see Obama as an honest broker for peace as well as 23% of non-Jewish Israelis and 45% of Jewish Israelis. Based on this data, it may well be that the best solution for peace is for the Obama administration to step aside and allow someone else that is trusted by both parties to bring about peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people.
The risk for the US and Israel, if they continue on their present course, is that they could find themselves alone against the rest of the world should the BDS movement continue to grow. Supporters of the BDS allege numerous violations of International Law. Among some of the main ones include Security Council Resolution 446. This resolution refers to the legal status and geographic nature of the Palestinian territories:
Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories;Another one is the Fourth Geneva Convention:
The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.The UN states that Israel's continuing construction of settlements will hurt the peace process to the point where it could damage the peace process irreparably, even though people on both sides still support the peace process and the two state solution.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
A UN political chief warned Tuesday that chances of peacefully ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be "irreparably damaged" unless steps are taken to prevent new Israeli settlement building and other "negative developments."But in order for Palestine to become a state, it must prove to the world that it can abide by international law. International law provides against the bombing of civilians:
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council that four months since the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at a two-state solution, negotiators "have gone some way towards narrowing their differences."
But he said "strains have been growing dangerously between the parties, and these can and must be overcome."
Considering that the Bureau of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments is to meet in the near future and that it is for the Bureau to consider practical means of undertaking the necessary work under conditions most likely to lead to as general an agreement as possible:Rocket attacks on Israel were particularly heavy in January, sparking retaliation by Israel. In response, Hamas has now deployed a force tasked with preventing rocket attacks against Israel. An earlier force had been ineffective.
I. Recognizes the following principles as a necessary basis for any subsequent regulations:
1) The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal;
2) Objectives aimed at from the air must be legitimate military objectives and must be identifiable;
3) Any attack on legitimate military objectives must be carried out in such a way that civilian populations in the neighbourhood are not bombed through negligence;
Hamas had reached the conclusion that the specially formed Restraining Force could not entirely prevent rocket fire against Israel. As it turns out, its members were reluctant to confront militants from other organizations. As a consequence, the al-Qassam Brigades, the movement’s “elite unit,” was tasked with that mission. Hamas hopes that even if Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees or other organizations are able to fire rockets despite the military wing’s vigilant eyes (or cocked weapons), Israel will realize that Hamas is making great efforts to avert such fire. The businessmen also conveyed an explicit message in this spirit to Israel.There have been 33 rocket attacks on Israel from January 1st to February 10th. However, a check of Google News showed no reports of rocket attacks since February 10th as of February 20th at 11 pm Central Time (US). A shift in American public opinion in favor of BDS and away from Israel would require the two main parties representing the Palestinians, Hamas and the PA, to prove that they can abide by International Law over a sustained period of time. It would also require the groups representing the Palestinians to abolish any references to the destruction of Israel in their respective charters.
The events since the rocket fire two weeks ago suggest that both sides, Israel and Hamas, are trying to find ways to communicate and maintain the status quo, which everyone finds convenient. Once again, it turned out that both sides have better ways of conveying messages other than launching another air strike or firing more rockets.
One of the basic rights found in international law is the right of collective self-determination. This was the basis for the formation of Israel in 1948 and is the basis for advocating for a Palestinian state. In order for this goal to be achieved, both sides must abolish both written policies and actions which lead to the destruction of the other party. This includes the settlements on Israel's part and the parts of Hamas' and the PA's charter calling for the destruction of Israel. And while the right of return is also a basic human right, it must be implemented in a way that preserves both Israel's and Palestine's identities in a two state solution.