With the Israeli elections only one week away, Netanyahu is pulling the same tricks he always has to rile up his base and appeal to the far-right in Israel. With polling numbers showing his Likud party and Gantz’s (his former Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the IDF) Blue and White Party neck in neck, Netanyahu is doing all he can to secure a majority, including – among other things – inciting against Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, attempting to push through a bill that will allow him to place cameras at the ballots to supress the Arab vote, meeting with the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to boast about his foreign relations capabilities, and, yesterday, threatning to illegaly annex parts of the West Bank. Speaking to reporters at a press conference, Netanyahu pledged that he will annex the Jordan Valley and parts of the northern Dead Sea – an area that comprises a third of the occupied West Bank – if he is reelected; a promise he also made two days before the previous elections were held.
Netanyahu’s proposed annexation will make the occupied West Bank an enclave within Israel, further restricting the freedom of movement of Palestinians (as if they had a “freedom” to move before), and completely cut off the West Bank from Jordan. This may very well be the first step in Netanyahu’s plan for a one-state solution. Nearly all Arab Palestinian cities, towns, and villages that comprised historic Palestine west of the 1949 armistice line were uprooted and destroyed by Israel during the Nakba. Those that did survive were slowly surrounded by Jewish settlements and cities, wherein they became neighborhoods within larger Jewish cities. Netanyahu is implementing that same strategy to take over the entire West Bank. Surround the entirety of the West Bank and slowly uproot, demolish, and occupy homes and stolen lands until the Palestinian people have no choice but to be a part of Israel!
Here's the map of Netanyahu's proposed annexation. It would essentially slice off the entire eastern edge of the West Bank and mean Jericho is a Palestinian island inside Israel territory.
Very hard for anyone to pretend Two States is still viable if this happens. pic.twitter.com/lfJp2PutW7
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) September 10, 2019
It is also worth noting the main opposition party’s response to such a declaration. In a statement, the party said:
“The residents of the Jordan Valley are not Netanyahu’s propaganda props. Blue and White has declared that the Jordan Valley will be part of Israel forever. It was Netanyahu who concocted a plan to surrender the Jordan Valley in [peace talks in] 2014.
“We’re glad Netanyahu came to his senses and adopted Blue and White’s plan for recognition of the Jordan Valley.”
This is yet another blunder for the Blue and White party, showing it is nothing more but the Likud with a different name. Netanyahu’s continued push farther to the right has shifted the Overton window drastically to the right of the political spectrum, where so called “centrist” parties now advocate for annexation that is banned under international law according to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2334, 242, and 446. Netanyahu’s extreme, nationalist rhetoric has lead to a surge in far-right extremism and hate crimes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, with the Palestinian people facing the brunt of the storm.
So, what does this all mean? For now, probably nothing considering the fact that he has used this play countless times in the past to gain political points and votes at the ballot boxes. However, that does not mean we should not take this statement seriously. With the Trump Administration rolling out its so called “Deal of the Century” peace plan following the Israeli elections, and Trump’s indisputable loyalty to Israel and complete disregard for the Palestinian people, it is safe to say that, given the current circumstances, Donald Trump will very much not only allow Netanyahu to annex parts of the West Bank, but will also recognize Israeli soverighnty over them. Needless to say, Jared Kushner’s “peace” plan so far seems to have no intentions of alleviating the struggles facing the Palestinian people, both within Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, with Blue and White not objecting to such a statement, despite branding themselves as a “center-left” party, it is clear there is nothing standing in Netanyahu’s way to finally make good on his long standing promise.