Palestinians pay for Iran deal

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu has been knocked back into his place by the world's most powerful countries.... including his key friend the US, so what does he do? He takes out his anger on the Palestinians of course

When Netanyahu was humiliated by the deal between the UNSC permanent members plus Germany (P5+1), and Iran he could not hide his anger. He came out spitting, even at his best friend, the US.

He has spent so much of his career calling for Iran to be bombed to its knees, and trying to cajole the US to do that bombing on Irael's behalf, that he was left standing stark naked, politically speaking of course, in front of not just the entire world, but the Jewish people whom he promised he would save from the Iranian Holocaust.

The P5+1 has taken his Iranian toy off him, and the response has been that of any bully brought down to size.

Queue the Palestinians.

I have spent the last week driving the length and breadth of Palestine in the company of Palestinians who live in what is basically an open air prison. The hill tops are colonized by illegal settlements, daily life is interrupted by a myriad of checkpoints, the apartheid separation barrier cuts through farms, olive groves, neighbourhoods and sometimes even homes, Jewish settlers incite violence with the Palestinians and Israel turns a blind eye to it, and everywhere there is razor wire...kilometres and kilometres of it.

As a Kiwi I am permitted to go to Jerusalem, but Palestinians who were born there are not.

And now these people who deal with vindictive and deliberately humiliating treatment by an armed occupation force are going to get some more because Netanyahu, the bully, needs to save face.

No sooner had the Iran deal been announced - to the acclamation of most of the world - did Netanyahu cry foul, denouncing it as a bad deal that would make the world a much more dangerous place.

Of course any sane person knows it is the opposite, particularly because it is now highly unlikely that Israel will go it alone and bomb Iran. That's safer isn't it?

Iran has agreed to a whole raft of measures in return for the easing of some of the crippling sanctions, followed by, hopefully, a formal deal which will prevent Iranian nuclear weapons but allow Iran the same right to nuclear technology as any sovereign state. That's safer isn't it?

But Netanyahu can not stand the fact that by being taken seriously as a negotiating partner, Iran has regained some of it's international legitimacy...and Israel has lost some of its (if it's illegal occupation and perpetual flouting of UN resolutions leaves it with much legitimacy to begin with).

So in order to show Israelis and the ever compliant Jewish diaspora throughout the US that he is still the Big Man on campus, Netanyahu has approved the building of 800 new Jewish-only settlement units on Palestinian land.

That'll teach them.

Calling these 'facts on the ground' settlements is much to kind. They are colonies - the product of the illegal colonizaction of another people's land In the hope that the owners of that land will give up and vacate altogether.

They are Netanyahu's cattle prod - as if the cattle-like turnstiles Palestinians are forced through to pass checkpoints are not enough.

They also represent something much deeper. Something which ties the Iran deal to the resumed Middle East peace negotiations.

The Palestinians are desperate for the colonization to stop so there is actually some land left to negotiate over. Netanyahu know full well that there will be no peace deal while Jews keep building on Palestinian land.

And now that the US has, in Netanyahu's parlance, thrown him under the bus on Iran, he will be expecting a much more contrite US when it comes to the deal with the PLO.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has shown an extraordinary determination in the Iran negotiations, and has faced off with Netanyahu without flinching.

It is to be hoped that he can show the same spine when it comes to the beleaguered peace talks which he has already worked hard at to get underway. However the latest poll out of Palestine indicates there is a lot of convincing to do.

It can be of no surprise that over two thirds of Palestinians polled by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre think the negotiations will fail.

If Netanyahu is permitted to continue treating Palestinians as his personal punching bag, who can blame them for their pessimism.

It is now up to Kerry to stay at the table, as he did with the Iranians, until he succeeds in calling to account Netanyahu's bullying behaviour, and adds an Israel-Palestine deal to his foreign policy accomplishments.

As I watched Tony Blair swan in to my hotel with a bevy of security and oh such importance, I couldn't help but wonder what, as Middle East Envoy has he achieved so far - apart from accumulating hundreds of thousands of pounds in his bank account?

My Palestinian companion - a medical doctor - just looked skyward and smiled.

Like the majority of Palestinians I am not holding my breath on the peace negotiations.

However being in Palestine at this particular time tells you that these incredibly patient people can only take what they are living for so long.

A third Intifada is the perpetual elephant in the room. Luckily, for now, only 29 percent of Palestinians believe armed resistance is the best way to achieve their goals.

Actually 29 percent is a pretty scary number Mr Netanyahu.