(GPA) Israel – After condemnation by the United States earlier this month, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned settlers to be on their best behavior until after the election of the next US president.
During a meeting with activists from Likud (Netanyahu’s right wing political party) that included settlers from Ofra (an illegal settlement in the West Bank) the prime minister warned the settlers to avoid “unwise conduct” until the end of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Netanyahu warned that the negative press that Israeli settlers tend to draw for their treatment of Palestinians could “endanger the entire settlement project.” Obviously not all the settlers in Palestinian territory engage in violence, there has been a sharp uptick since the early 2000s that even the leadership of Israeli defense forces (IDF) acknowledge.
The “unwise conduct” PM Netanyahu was referring to can include anything from riots, destruction of Palestinian property, violence against the Palestinian people, destruction of the Palestinian economy and even attacks against IDF forces and Israeli police. Palestinian police are unable to take any actions to protect their own people since, by law, they can not arrest any Israeli who is technically on Israeli territory (despite it being on Palestinian land.)
Netanyahu is aware of these types of acts carried out by Israelis who belong to his party and knows they are growing concerned with the stability of their settlements. The Israeli High Court has been issuing decisions against settlers who are violating international laws too blatantly.
Netanyahu also warned the settlers that often times when a US president is coming to the end of their term that they use this freedom to make decisions contrary to Israeli interests. Although Barack Obama did authorize the largest aid package ever for Israel last month, he later went on criticize the expansion of the illegal settlements at the United Nations general assembly.
This kind of language is troubling to the settlers with a potential vote looming in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that could damage their illegal project. If the US vote on the proposal follows popular trends worldwide, we could see international sanctions leveled against Israel.
Netanyahu may be warning the settlers to be on their best behavior now, but it may be too late. Geopolitical trends may be shifting in a way to deliver the Palestinians the justice that is long overdue.