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Netanyahu threat to cross the E1 ‘red line’ was Israel’s plan all along

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Elections are nearing in Israel – scheduled for coming Monday, March 2nd. Thus, it is hunting season for getting the last votes which could possibly determine an outcome that is other than a deadlock. Today’s poll on Walla News indicates that the two major parties, Likud and Blue & White, are tied with 34 seats each, and that there is no projected block that can make it to the necessary 61-seat majority. In other words, the deadlock from last year, having already resulted in two extra elections, is bound to continue after this one, with a fourth election later this year.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has thus made some big promises concerning settlements, in an apparent attempt to garner more votes. The right bloc only needs 4 more seats – the center-left bloc is not even close. Thus, desperate times call for desperate promises. Jerusalem Post:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu crossed a diplomatic redline Tuesday when he announced he would advance plans for the construction of 3,500 homes in an undeveloped area of Ma’aleh Adumim known as E1.

This came atop Netanyahu’s confirmation that a tender had been published this week of 1,077 homes for a new settlement neighborhood in Givat Hamatos.

The E1 area lies between the the settlement of Maale Adumim and Jerusalem (which Israel considers its ‘united capital’), and building there would effectively mean a severing of the last territorial corridor between the southern and northern parts of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. The Givat Hamatos development would further disconnect Bethlehem in the south from East Jerusalem.

The US ‘Liberal-Zionist’ advocacy group J Street, which strongly believes in a two-state solution as the only way forward, wrote in response:

These projects have been referred to by experts as ‘doomsday settlements’ because they bisect Palestinian population areas and, in the case of the E-1 settlement, cut through the West Bank in a way designed to prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem. That’s why the international community considers these projects red lines and why the Israeli government has chosen not to move forward with construction in these areas. Until now.

J Street is urging its members to speak out ahead of the coming AIPAC conference (March 1st-3rd):

There is limited time to speak up and push back before Netanyahu moves forward with these projects and dooms Israelis and Palestinians to perpetual occupation and conflict without end.

But let us have a look at the history of Israeli plans to cross this major “red line” in the E1 area.

It was first championed by the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – a Labor leader, in 1994, as he was in the midst of the process of signing the Oslo Accords. He viewed it as critically important to link Maale Adumim with Jerusalem, for the sake of ‘security’ – what else. The master plan for E1 was first approved in 1999. Yet despite the inherent wish across the Israeli political spectrum to realize the plan, there was an apprehension in the Israeli leadership relating to international objection, which had included the US, as it would make it all too obvious that Israel was working to prevent a viable Palestinian state. But times have moved on, and under the Trump administration there is far lesser objection to fear from the US.

If one looks at the map of Israel’s ‘separation barrier’ around Maale Adumim, there are already plans to encircle the whole settlement enclave with the wall. The E1 area has already been placed within the municipal boundaries of Maale Adumim since in the 1990’s. Israel has been poised to realize these intentions with more ‘facts on the ground’.

This is not even the first time Netanyahu pledged to build in E1. He did so also in 2012, during his second term, in an apparent response to the UN accepting Palestine as a non-member observer state, thus effectively recognizing Palestinian statehood.

The Israeli colonization of Palestine is a continually unfolding process. Like the ‘separation barrier’, it shifts over time. That wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, is also known as the “annexation wall” – and the ruling over its illegality was not based upon its existence per se, but that it cut into Palestinian territory. Israel uses it as a means to consolidate its colonialist settlement gains, under the pretext of ‘security’, and in the process it dissects Palestinian territory. J Street are clear about this being Netanyahu’s goal now:

Before our very eyes, the Netanyahu government is moving forward with new settlements and settlement expansions that would cement Israel’s control over the West Bank and consign Palestinians to disconnected enclaves with limited autonomy.

If severing Palestinian territorial continuity is a red line, then Israel already did that in 1948. Later, Rabin, that supposed peace dove, was only willing to offer “less than a state”, as he promised the Israeli parliament in 1995. This was followed by Ehud Barak’s (another Labor leader) “generous offer” in 2000 which also meant Bantustans. J Street might bemoan “disconnected enclaves with limited autonomy”, but this was always the Israeli plan, it was always about Bantustans. The Apartheid reality is simply becoming ever more clear under Trump, and there is no real Israeli opposition to it.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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8 Responses

  1. eljay on February 26, 2020, 10:49 am

    … The Apartheid reality is simply becoming ever more clear under Trump, and there is no real Israeli opposition to it.

    Not to worry: All the Palestinians have to do is “outsmart” Trump by…
    – restating things he has said;
    – asking for clarifications; and
    – not saying ‘no’,
    …and Trump – a bought-and-paid-for (pro-)Zionist – will deliver justice, accountability and equality to I-P.

    Bibi doesn’t stand a chance.

  2. bcg on February 26, 2020, 12:22 pm

    It’s interesting that Israel’s military elite don’t speak about punishing the Palestinians or “holding their feet to the fire”, no, they just take the practical view that annexation of large areas of the West Bank will set in motion a number of negative consequences for Israel.

    “Commanders for Israel’s Security sent a letter to Benjamin Netanyahu about the dangers of annexation. Former Israeli National Security Council Head Uzi Arad explains why.” (video)

  3. brent on February 27, 2020, 1:55 am

    J-Street is seeing their dream of two independent states fade away. This calculation by Netanyahu, if successful, will end that dream for Palestinians too? The realization a bi-national state is the only plausible y forward may be the silver lining. J-Street, Congress and Palestinians may have to adjust.

    The PA dealt itself out when it said “No!, A thousand times. No!” to Trump’s request for a counter plan. Now Abbas has to come to terms with his declaration a year back when he said if Israel proved it wasn’t serious about negotiating, the one-state would be his way forward.

    Trump’s ideas about an agreement in his first term, went haywire when he moved the embassy. He made a mistake thinking that his declaring he wasn’t determining borders or sovereignty for Jerusalem would be heard. That good things were instore for Palestinians would resonate.
    Abbas and Erekat were just too angry to hear. He sent Pence as an offering but Abbas was determined to publicly rebuke him. Palestinians would not play, so let them suffer. Time passed. Now he’s needing evangelicals and political partners like never before.

    Perhaps Palestinian citizens will come to Palestine’s rescue with pro-active political engagement. They could vote in the coming election. They could engage a campaign for equality under the law. Either could shake/shape things up.

    Trump nor Sanders will deliver for Palestinians. They will have to figure out on their own how to take what is rightfully theirs. If Not Now, among others, seem ready to help.

    • Mooser on February 27, 2020, 6:35 pm

      “Trump nor Sanders will deliver for Palestinians. They will have to figure out on their own how to take what is rightfully theirs.” “brent”

      The Palestinians just won’t take your advice, and treat the Israelis as equals, will they?

    • RoHa on February 28, 2020, 12:38 am

      “Trump’s ideas about an agreement in his first term, went haywire when he moved the embassy. ”

      There should be no comma between subject or subject clause and verb if the verb immediately follows the subject or subject clause.

      Inserting a comma gives the misleading impression that the subject or subject clause is a subordinate clause.

  4. just on February 27, 2020, 4:43 am

    Thanks, Jonathan.

    This is on the front page this morning in The Guardian:

    “Grave concern about US plan to resolve Israel-Palestine conflict

    Donald Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan for the Middle East envisages an outcome with characteristics similar to apartheid, say 50 former foreign ministers and leaders from across Europe

    As Europeans dedicated to promoting international law, peace and security worldwide, we express our deep concern about President Trump’s Middle East plan, titled Peace to Prosperity.

    The plan contradicts internationally agreed parameters for the Middle East peace process, relevant UN resolutions, including security council resolution 2334, and the most fundamental principles of international law. Instead of promoting peace, it risks fuelling the conflict – at the expense of Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike, and with grave implications for Jordan and the wider region. It has been met with widespread opposition in the region, in Europe, and in the United States.

    The plan allows for annexation of large and vital parts of the occupied Palestinian territory and legitimises and encourages illegal Israeli settlement activity. It recognises only one side’s claims to Jerusalem and offers no just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees. It projects a future Palestinian “state” without control and sovereignty over its fragmented territory. The map featured in the plan proposes Palestinian enclaves under permanent Israeli military control, which evoke chilling associations with South Africa’s bantustans.

    Peace to Prosperity is not a roadmap to a viable two-state solution, nor to any other legitimate solution to the conflict. The plan envisages a formalisation of the current reality in the occupied Palestinian territory, in which two peoples are living side by side without equal rights. Such an outcome has characteristics similar to apartheid – a term we don’t use lightly. …”

    the rest, including signatories, @

    Of course lots of people here, there, and everywhere know this and more, and will say that it does not go far enough. I do think those that have not been paying close attention might just get a jolt.

  5. Misterioso on February 27, 2020, 11:11 am

    The Rot within:

    “In Classic Occupier Fashion, Israel Has Hit Rock Bottom. And Now It’s Too Late”

    By B. Michael, Haaretz, Feb. 27/2020

    “Yes, yes, this is exactly how it happens.

    “But what was the original sin? The Nakba? Not separating religion and state? The lack of a constitution? The terrible mistakes in absorbing immigrants? The different school systems? The pipe dreams about ‘Jewish and democratic’?

    “The corrupt Sinai Campaign of 1956? The corrupting war of 1967? The unnecessary Yom Kippur War of 1973?

    “The occupation? The souls that were poisoned? The urges that were liberated? The Judeoid paganism? The criminal settlements? The disregard of the Zionist ultra-Orthodox monster ever since it was born? The inconceivable (and unavoidable) evil of the military tyranny in the occupied territory to our east?

    “The complete loss of restraint by government? The celebration of corruption? The debauchery by lucre? The creeping weakness of the justice system?

    “But what difference does it make? Really, what difference does it make? After all, by now it’s too late. The exit from the corral is no longer in sight. The path is clear, consistent. Here and there it’s a bit tortuous, but it doesn’t deviate by a single degree from the one we’ve been sentenced to.

    “There were people who warned us. There were people who foresaw what would happen. Theodor Herzl, for instance, who in his rosy nightmares saw an enlightened state where Jews and Arabs battled a chauvinist rabbi who sought to take it over – and defeated him.

    “And Lord Nathaniel Rothschild, who in August 1902 sent a letter to Herzl saying, ‘I tell you very frankly that I should view with horror the establishment of a Jewish Colony…it would be a Ghetto with the prejudices of the Ghetto; it would be a small, petty, Jewish State, orthodox and illiberal, excluding the Gentile and the Christian.’

    “And Lord Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish minister in His Majesty’s Government back then, who in October 1917 sent the British cabinet a memorandum titled ‘The Anti-Semitism of the Present [British] Government.’ The government’s sin, he wrote, was its acceptance of the Balfour Declaration, which was destined to create a synthetic nation in Palestine and thereby provoke waves of anti-Semitism in which people would accuse the Jews of dual loyalty and demand that they all be sent to Palestine. And one could add many more concerned Jews to this list.

    “But what difference does it make? Really, what difference does it make? After all, by now it’s too late.

    “After the 1967 war, there was also a minority that foresaw where the country was heading. Just three months (!) after the war, a dozen members of the Matzpen movement published an open letter in Haaretz, on September 22, 1967, saying ,’Holding on to the occupied territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims.’

    “Similar warnings were made by Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz and three men who were current or former ministers at the time – Haim-Moshe Shapira of the National Religious Party, Pinhas Sapir and Yitzhak Ben-Aharon. One could add many more concerned Israelis to the list. But the religious demon that escaped from the cracks in the Western Wall could no longer be stopped.

    “What happened next was classic. Every occupying state has gone down this path – a coarsening of the soul, a loss of good character, burgeoning violence and oppression, an addiction to authority, hatred, evil and lucre.

    “And then, riding on all this, a contemptible man always attains power, a corrupt man devoid of restraint who gathers evil men in his own image around him – people who market hatred and wickedness, who dance on the blood of others, holy priests with the greatness of God in their mouths and bribes in their pockets.

    “And the masses are always drawn to their charm, because hatred is always stronger than enlightenment. And absurd beliefs are always stronger than cold logic. And liberated urges are always more tempting than the restrictions imposed by good character.

    “And that’s how we got here. And from here we can see the darkness at the end of the corral.

    “So what will be? What will be? ‘The Holy One, blessed be He, did justice with Israel when He scattered them among the nations,’ it says in the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Pesachim, page 87b. And this, alas, shall be our consolation.”

  6. iResistDe4iAm on February 29, 2020, 9:52 am

    “Before our very eyes, the Netanyahu government is moving forward with new settlements and settlement expansions that would cement Israel’s control over the West Bank and consign Palestinians to disconnected enclaves with limited autonomy.”

    shorter J Street…

    Segregated but fewer Palestinian bantustans are good:

    Segregated but more numerous Palestinian shanty towns and ghettoes are bad.

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