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NBA bounced by Israel

The US no longer even pays lip service to a two-state solution. Palestinians need us to act

DONALD TRUMP, who claims the right to award one people’s territory to another people as their capital city, appears to have taken a further step.

Israel’s Sports Minister Miri Regev, who declares authority over Trump’s mind, decided to give US National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver a dressing-down for publishing on the association’s website a factual reference to the Israeli-occupied West Bank as “Palestine — occupied territory.”

Regev insisted in her letter to Silver that this formulation was not in line with Trump’s thinking, was hurtful to Israel and “distorted” reality.

She accused the NBA official of “legitimising the division of the state of Israel” and of “gross and blatant interference” in its affairs, noting positively the US president’s recent declaration on Jerusalem.

Regev didn’t add that 14 out of 15 UN security council members rejected Trump’s bizarre stance while the UN general assembly insisted that Washington’s position was illegal, without substance and should be reversed.

In contrast, Silver bowed the knee promptly, blaming someone else and apologising to this minister from another country with no legal right to push him or any other US citizen around.

He was doubtless aware that just as one Trump flunkey counterposed “alternative facts” to facts during the presidential election campaign, the current US and Israeli leaderships advocate “alternative international law” in preference to international law recognised by the rest of the world.

Regev’s affront at what she called Silver’s legitimation of “the division of the state of Israel” speaks volumes for the attitudes of Israel, the US and the latter’s allies, especially in the EU.

Her position, shared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is that Palestine is not only “a country everyone knows does not exist” but one they have no intention of ever seeing take shape.

Netanyahu insisted during the last Israeli general election campaign that no Palestinian state would come into existence on his watch.

Only after he was safely returned to office did he respond to pressure from then US president Barack Obama to acknowledge, with a nod and wink, that, of course, his government remained committed to the two-state solution to which the entire international community pays lip service.

Now liberated from Obama’s insistence that Israel — and its global backers — should at least appear to subscribe to the international community’s demand that the Palestinians should have their own state on Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem as their capital, Netanyahu and Regev feel entitled to refer to the entire region as Israel.

Prior to Trump’s advent, diplomacy dictated genuflection in the direction of a two-state solution while Tel Aviv accelerated illegal colonisation of the West Bank and the Palestinians were berated for holding back peace negotiations by resisting Israel’s ethnic cleansing.

The ugly alliance of Trump, Netanyahu and his ministers has the singular merit of dispensing with the hogwash and making clear their joint project of a single-state solution to Israel’s advantage, with Palestinians remaining as refugees outside their homeland or confined to apartheid bantustans or US-style Native American reservations.

The UN security council and general assembly have confirmed that this is not what the rest of the world is prepared to tolerate.

Politicians in Britain and the EU must come clean. Are they with Trump and Netanyahu or a viable two-state solution?

If the latter, then words are no longer enough. Israel must face the pressure of boycott, divestment and sanctions to accept international law.


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