Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first task at Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting was to de-legitimise the United Nations General Assembly's elevation of Palestine to an Observer State. His next target was Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader who asked all countries to recognize Ramallah as more than a political entity.
Netanyahu then played his political card, defying international criticism to promote the construction of 3,000 new settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the withholding of this month's tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority:
The response to the attack on Zionism and the State of Israel must reinforce and underscore the implementation of the settlement plan in all areas in which the Government decides regarding settlement.
These are not my words. These are the words of the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and this is the language of the Cabinet's 1975 decision in the wake of the UN decision that equated Zionism with racism.
Today we are building and we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all areas that are on the map of the strategic interests of the State of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority's one-sided step at the UN constitutes a gross violation of the agreements that have been signed with the State of Israel; accordingly, the Government of Israel rejects the UN General Assembly decision.
I would like to reiterate: There will be no Palestinian state without an arrangement in which the security of Israeli citizens will be ensured. There will be no Palestinian state until the State of Israel is recognized as the state of the Jewish People. There will be no Palestinian state until the Palestinians declare an end to the conflict. Israel will not agree to Judea and Samaria becoming a base for Iranian terrorism, as happened in the areas we evacuated in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
I would like to thank US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas and the leaders of the other countries that voted against the proposal at the UN. History will favorably judge those countries that lined up on the side of truth, on the side of peace and alongside Israel at this time.
Today, the Cabinet will be briefed on the incitement that the Palestinian Authority is leading against Israel. I must say that in addition to this report, there is, to my regret, Abu Mazen's [Mahmoud Abbas's] sharp incitement speech at the UN, in which he incited against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens while using lies and historical distortions.
I must note that Abu Mazen did not see fit to say even a single word about the terrorism and rocket fire being directed against Israeli citizens; this is not the talk of a man who wants peace.
So is Netanyahu looking to uproot the political and economic institutions set up since 1993 amid Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and dispute?
No. This "warning" is rhetoric, seeking to hold the line while the Prime Minister pursues his first priority: winning another term in office in the January elections.
Contrary to Netanyahu's presentation the 1993 Oslo Principles have not been destroyed by Mahmoud Abbas. To the contrary, they have been legally riddled with holes by West Jerusalem. Netanyahu may calls Abbas' speech to the international community an "incitement", but the fact remain that it was the Palestinian delegation from the West Bank that was endorsed by all but nine countries last week.
If there is a party with standing to complain about violations, it is the Palestinian side. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention says that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. The 2004 decision of the International Court of Justice calls Israeli settlements "illegal". Yet Israel continues the expansion of settlements, as highlighted by Netanyahu of Sunday, and orders the expulsion of Palestinians and demolition of their villages in the South Hebron Hills, home to about 2,000 people.
And it is hard to see how Abbas, rather than Israel, is the block to "the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit" as described in Article IV of the Oslo Principles. Even before Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, the Olmert government had put Oslo in context: it called Hamas a "terrorist organisation" with whom it would not "conduct negotiations". So much for Article III, which said that "the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip may govern themselves" through "democratic principles, direct, free and general political elections". Instead, West Jerusalem maintains the siege of Gaza, claiming legitimacy because of the supply of "fundamental" humanitarian needs through dozens of trucks.
Netanyahu does not care about the legal codex of the Principles. Nor is he really concerned about the unfinished negotiations, further receding because of West Jerusalem's refusal to stop settlements in the West Bank.
Instead, the Prime Minister was lashing out against Isreal's further isolation, coupled with the uncertainty following the UN decision. And he was looking inside as well: his first priority is to secure victory in the 22 January elections for the Knesset. Then he can use that mandate to try and regain the upper hand over the West Bank. For a veteran political figther like Netanyahu, that longer game is how last week's defeat can be turned into his own personal triumph for Israel's "security".