Rouhani’s Favourite Village: After erasing Makhul, Israel might see support from the US evaporate

The US is being torn between the old alliance with Israel and a conversation with Iran

Share
Related Topics

On Thursday, the Independent reported the demolition of Makhul. Not long before Netanyahu boycotted Rouhani’s speech at the UN, Israeli soldiers bulldozed the tiny village, barring the Red Cross from aiding those who were left homeless.

Makhul is a Palestinian village nestled in the Jordan Valley, a territory occupied by Israel as part of the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim this fertile land as their historic home, but Makhul’s Bedouin population were powerless to stop the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) from evicting them.

Ahead of his address to the United Nations on Tuesday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would do well to consider where this leaves his friendship with the US, in light of the recent rapprochement with Iran.

Hassan Rouhani’s speech to the Security Council last week marked a sea-change for Iran’s relations with the US. His commitment to a transparent nuclear policy prompted talks with the US on the subject, which were later lauded by Secretary of State John Kerry for validating Iran’s change in "tone".

But another part of Rouhani’s speech will make Kerry anxious about his breakthrough. The recently elected President of Iran described Israel instigating an ‘apartheid’ with Palestinians in the West Bank. Rouhani made clear that the ongoing repression amounted to ‘nothing less than structural violence’.

Makhul certainly gives credence to this claim. Indeed, the story told by Burhan Bisharat, a resident interviewed in the Independent’s article last week, reeked of the slum clearances seen in South Africa forty years ago. Residents were removed from their homes by force, and denied crucial aid by humanitarian groups.

Pressed for an answer on Makhul, Netanyahu might respond that the evicted residents had lived there illegally, with no license granted to build homes. He might also remind us that the Israeli high court condemned the army for preventing aid getting to the Palestinians they left without shelter.

Both replies would reflect an insidious persecution of Muslims living in the Jordan Valley. Men like Burhan had no chance of getting permission to build and live in Makhul; the local authorities see the West Bank as Israeli land, for Israelis. And, however noble the high court’s castigation of the IDF, the fact remains that the military had to be told to stop blocking the Red Cross from the desolation.

This kind of persecution was enabled by the Israeli state up until the point where it risked inviting more international scrutiny. Makhul vindicated Rouhani’s concern for Palestinians, putting a name to the “brutal repression” he pinned on Israel.

This week, Netanyahu could look to justify events in the West Bank. If he does, Kerry will find himself torn between the old alliance with Israel and a conversation with Iran which promises new stability in the region. At stake is a groundbreaking dialogue with Iran on its nuclear weapons programme.

Last week, Bedouin villagers were the target of real persecution by the state of Israel, authenticating Rouhani’s claims about “apartheid” in the West Bank. This week, Netanyahu should be cautious in assuming Obama’s uncompromising support.

We were never supposed to hear about Makhul being wiped from the map. Now, its name could isolate Israel while new channels of diplomacy open up between Washington and Tehran.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
More From
Josh Dolphin
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape