The answer is that all Israeli landmark decisions that apparently uphold Palestinian rights come with a caveat that renders them irrelevant. In the case of the torture ruling, it allowed recourse to the necessity defense and permitted investigators to use torture to meet immediate and otherwise unavoidable grievous threats to innocent life. And guess what: since then, every time Israel wants to torture someone it labels him or her "a grievous threat to innocent life," et voilà, business as usual.
I was reminded of this only the other day, when a Ynet story under the title
Gov't to withhold aid from settlements caught my eye. The auspicious lede read "Ministers decide to exclude 70 West Bank settlements from national priorities map; The story was covered up, officials say." By then I was sure that this decision had a clause that would allow the settlements to apply for prioritarian treatment anyway. The only doubt was how it would be worded. But why had that decision been made in the first place? The article first gave us the context:
The government has decided to exclude 70 West Bank settlements from the list of national priority areas, Ynet has learned Thursday.
The list asserts which towns across the country are to receive grants and benefits aimed at boosting the communities' economy and making them more attractive for new residents and investors.
On Sunday, the government voted to approve an updated version of the list, which included the 70 settlements. A day later, it was proposed to remove towns that are located beyond the Green Line from the priority map; the initiative was put up to a telephone vote, and was passed by a 15-10 margin. Several ministers abstained from the vote.
Then came the reason for the decision:
Government sources estimate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was concerned that including the settlements in the list will hurt the latest efforts to restart the peace talks with the Palestinians. Due to this fear, the West Bank communities were deemed ineligible for automatic aid.
How "concerned" of Mr. Netanyahu. He has enough conscience to understand that the settlements will be a hindrance in the peace process, but not enough not to build them.
By then, however, I had grown a little impatient. I didn't have to wait much, though, since the following paragraph gave me what I was looking for:
The settlements can still apply for incentives, but the decision to grant them these benefits is left up to the government.
So what do you think will happen in the next few months? What are you saying? That most, if not all, of the 70 settlements will apply for incentives? And that in most, if not all, of those cases the government will decide to grant them? Are you kidding me? Are you suggesting Israel acts in bad faith? But yes, you got it right and that's what will in all likelihood happen.
So that next time a Zionist brings up a suspiciously democratic Israeli decision or piece of legislation, don't think too much and confront your hypothetical pro-Israel friend with one simple phrase: it's the caveat, stupid.