Israeli settlement building provokes a red mist that wipes out any prospect of rational discourse. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the potential development of the “E-1” corridor, in a rational world it would have no bearing on the ability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to sit down and agree on two states. But the irrationality is not confined to one side. Israel’s future now looks almost as precarious as it was in 1967 and 1973.
The civil war in Syria has spilled into the Golan Heights and the fear that Assad’s chemical weapons will be removed from their storage silos may be realised. Hizbollah has 60,000 missiles ready to launch. Hamas is rebuilding its arms network. The Sinai is a launch-pad for terror groups. And the IAEA believes that Iran is only months away from the ability to arm its first nuclear weapon.
In this context, Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to press the “settlement” button seems deliberately antagonistic. Having had overwhelming Western support for his actions in Gaza, he has responded to the UN vote on observer status for the Palestinian Authority with an act that he must have known would lead to similarly overwhelming condemnation. That is not statesmanship. It is petulance.