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

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

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Financial Accountant

£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...

Sheridan Maine: Portfolio Accountant

£30,000 - £35,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a Management Accountant with...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts

Björt Ólafsdóttir
 

Daily catch-up: opening round in the election contest of the YouTube videos

John Rentoul
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor