The heat is rising by the moment over Israeli government plans to begin annexing of large portions of the West Bank beginning July 1. Jordan has warned Israel not to do it. Europe and the U.N. are also sounding alarms; the French say there will be “reprisals.” Joe Biden has come out against it, so have other Democratic politicians, lately including Dianne Feinstein. Not that any of them is willing to hold up the billions in aid we give Israel over annexation.
Meantime, Trump and Pompeo have given Israel a semi-OK to move toward annexation, Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer is lobbying administration officials and conservative politicians/influencers to back Israel on annexation, and AIPAC has said whatever Israel does the U.S. has to stand by Israel.
In Israel, Netanyahu’s political opposition says that annexation will move forward. Though it is likely to be piecemeal.
Here are Yair Golan of the Meretz party and Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List speaking on an Israel Policy Forum call two days ago.
Golan says that Netanyahu is trying to play his right wing with the annexation talk, but in the end he will go through with “crawling” annexation of areas near the green line in the West Bank (or as Golan says, using the biblical term, Judea and Samaria).
I do not believe that Netanyahu is really devoted to annexation. I would say it’s… political maneuvering more than anything else. It’s a kind of Swiss chocolate bar for the far right, and he has no intention to give them the chocolate bar but to [keep] it in his hands and negotiate with them for any future political achievement he would like to achieve…
The real issue here is, you know, Netanyahu is not so stupid. He will not annex Judea and Samaria entirely [biblical term for West Bank]. And he will move forward with annexing… certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim, Modi’in Illit, all kinds of settlements near the Green Line, things which are in the midst of the Israeli consensus, like Gush Etzion. That is the way he will explain to the rest of the world, Alright, we did what was reasonable, what was accepted by the Palestinians in former negotations, and what was heavily accepted by President Trump according to his future plan.
No matter how we look at the subject, let’s say Netanyahu is serious, he will do it in the manner of crawling annexation.
Aida Touma-Sliman said that Netanyahu is very serious about annexation, he has been preparing for it for years:
I do think Netanyahu has been preparing for this step for more than two years now… Last September before the elections, Netanyahu… said it very clearly, you do not go for annexation in just a rapid way. You need to do a lot of preparation and lay the ground…. And we are doing that, in our relations with our friends in theArab World… and in the United States… I’m sure this was the plan of the last two years.
She said the plan is clear from the Nation State law of 2018 giving Jews exclusive rights of self-determination to the annexation discourse that went on in the Israeli Knesset: “more and more laws, brought in, talking about annexing settlements.”
Touma-Sliman said the political issue in Israel is that no one outside the Palestinian Joint List has presented an alternative to Netanyahu’s vision of a “Greater Israel” and annexation, during recent campaigns. “Nobody was telling the people we have an alternative… That’s why Gantz ended up crawling into Netanyahu’s government.” Only the Joint List has presented an alternative.
She said there will be a demonstration on June 6 against annexation, and she expects it to be big.
The IPF call showed how fragmented Netanyahu’s opposition is. A third member of the parliament, Ram Ben-Barak of Yesh Atid, was also on the call and he said it’s fine for Israel to annex the Jordan Valley. There are only 72,000 Palestinians there, and Israel needs the Jordan Valley to maintain security.
Golan disagreed strongly. He said that annexing the Jordan Valley would assure that Israel never has peace.
The Jordan Valley is 30 percent of the land of Judea and Samaria, and 60 percent of the free land for building for Palestinians, if you want to ruin any recipe for future agreement with the Palestinians, the best recipe is to annex the Jordan Valley. [It is] totally unacceptable from my perspective.
Annexing just the Jordan Valley annexation is nothing more than a cover for a full annexation… There is no way that the Palestinians will acept this principle of very large annexation… saying nothing, while staying quietly at home, and just accepting the unilateral measure of annexation.