The latest reports are that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu will push off any decision on annexation till after Wednesday, July 1, because Trump is giving him mixed signals. Trump may be hesitant because the rest of the world is going nuts against annexation, everyone from the Gulf states to Jordan, to the entire Democratic Party, to European countries warning they’ll recognize a Palestinian state.
Even Netanyahu’s partner is lukewarm; Benny Gantz says annexation can wait. “Multiple US sources say annexation will not happen on July 1,” says the Jerusalem Post.
Yossi Gurvitz says, Netanyahu told a Likud member of Knesset this evening that he was misquoted in his original schedule of announcing annexation and didn’t say annexation would begin on July 1st, but “from July 1st onwards.” If true, Gurvitz says, “Netanyahu is looking for a ladder to climb down this tree.”
Though “Netanyahu seems very motivated to do it,” former ambassador Dan Shapiro said today on an Americans for Peace Now call.
Netanyahu told the Christian Zionist organization CUFI last night that Trump’s peace plan is a vision for a “realistic” two-state solution, which sounds a lot like apartheid:
[Donald Trump’s] vision for peace finally puts to rest the two state solution. It calls for a realistic two state solution, and in this solution Israel and Israel alone has the security control on all the area west of the Jordan River…
Applying Israeli law to areas of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] that will remain part of Israel in any future peace deal will not set back the cause of peace. It will advance peace.
Leading American Jewish organizations that exist to support Israeli actions have been paralyzed by annexation. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, have said, We don’t like this annexation business, but we will defend it if you go ahead with it, because our job is to advocate for Israel.
While James Klutznick, the chair of Americans for Peace Now, issued a stern warning to Israel today during a conference call. “No, enough of this nonsense.” Take a “scintilla” of land and American Jews are going to turn against you, because our values come first.
Amazingly, Klutznick started by saying unilateralism is “rooted in the history of the Zionist movement.”
It would be remiss if I didn’t say this unilateralism wasn’t actually rooted in the history of the Zionist movement. From the very begining we had our Jabotinskys and I think they were pretty singleminded in their purpose of a greater Israel, which included all that territory. So I understand why Jordan might be a little nervous these days. Since it had been suggested… that might be the Palestinian state some day. So that might be the more realistic two states that Netanyahu is talking about and I fear for that..
What concerns me for the sake of our mutually strategic and beneficial relationship with Israel is what’s happening to our values if we allow this to continue…
[Speaking of liberal Zionist Progressive Israel Network] I say this to the whole group: “No to any form of annexation. Not a scintilla of any property or anything.” We should stand firmly this time… We have to weigh that relationship [with Israel] against our values, and we have to say no, enough of this nonsense. Let’s get to a real two state negotiated solution.
Klutznick said twice he was not going to lay any blame on Palestinians.
Klutznick’s comments stand in stark contrast to the leading Jewish groups.
Here’s Jason Isaacson of the AJC saying American Jews don’t have the right to judge Israel, just support it. If Israel follows through on annexation despite “nearly universal objections from governments near and far and the warnings of many of Israel’s supporters in the Diaspora,” well, we’ll just explain Israel’s actions to the world!
It is not for the ardent friends and supporters of Israel, comfortable in our homes thousands of miles away, to tell the democratically elected Israeli government what to do. We will never abandon the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state in our people’s native land, and we will never forsake our brethren. We will always be their advocates and share in the joy of their successes.
Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL sends a similar message. He urges Israel not to annex but says he will defend Israel from its harshest critics if it goes forward and doesn’t want to have that Jewish criticism too public.
If annexation should come to pass, we need to both provide a space for folks to express criticism of Israel’s decision without being painted as anti-Israel while at the same time calling out those voices who would use this opportunity to propagate anti-Zionist, anti-semitic accusations
Joshua Leifer in Jewish Currents reports on a leaked memo from the ADL on its strategy to spin “apartheid” if annexation goes through.
[The memo] warns that the group will need to find a way to defend Israel from criticism without alienating other civil rights organizations, elected officials of color, and Black Lives Matter activists and supporters. The memo suggests that the group hopes to avoid appearing openly hostile to public criticism of annexation while it works to block legislation that harshly censures Israel or leads to material consequences, such as conditioning United States military support…
Amir Tibon says the Israeli government sees the spinelessness of American Jewish organizations:
[T]he Israeli government disregards organizations like AJC and will always ignore their views on religious issues important to American Jews. They sense the weakness and know these guys will never actually stand up for anything
While Hadar Susskind of Americans for Peace Now says annexation could change the American Jewish power structure:
This week is going to be a moment of truth for many American Jewish organizations and American Jews. If you oppose annexation but have supported AIPAC, ADL or AJC, ask yourself whether you should continue to do so.
On that Americans for Peace Now call today, former US ambassador Dan Shapiro said that annexation has been put off for now.
The Trump administration seems to have given Gantz a veto … by saying there needs to be an Israeli consensus… That seems to have pushed this past July 1. Theunderstanding among most political reporters.. is that nothing’s going to happen on Wednesday… The Israel debate will continue…. This is a moving target. How much it will be, when it will be, if it will be…
But no one knows what Israel is even talking about because the policymaking is “unbelievably chaotic.” It’s not clear if Israel is talking about 15, 30, or 7 percent of the West Bank, or however much it can get away with, or the Jordan Valley too. “It’s a crazy way to make any kind of decision that has really serious strategic and societal and national security consequences.”
Amir Tibon of Haaretz says annexation is being pushed by two people:
Annexation at this point is a personal project of two people: Netanyahu who needs it to please the settlers and David Friedman who has religious motives. Most Israelis don’t care…
Shapiro says, “once the lid is ripped off of the taboo” of unilateral action, Palestinians may take their own unilateral action, such as declaring a state, and many European countries will recognize it.
And the Israeli annexationists will understand Netanyahu’s first move as just a baby step.
Every version of [annexation] openly says, This is just the first step. This is just to lower the initial opposition. Then we’re going to come back for more later, and there is kind of an inexorable quality of advancement of the territory to be annexed…. We’ll get on a slippery slope and it’s going to be very very hard to reverse.”
Shapiro says the Israeli press is covering all the Democratic opposition, from Biden to Ted Deutch to Chuck Schumer, but Israelis often wave that away. “It’s pretty clear that if you advance with annexation you’d be doing it knowing that you have the support of the current administration and possibly setting up a disagreement with the next administartion. [But many Israelis reason] “They’ll have to accept it, it’s a fait accompli.”
Gurvitz points out that human rights attorney Michael Sfard predicted the collapse of annexation. “He’s been saying for a few weeks now that annexation may well fail – and that if it fails, then the right wing will enter a major faith crisis. If they couldn’t pass annexation now, when all the stars were aligned, they’ll never be able to pass it.”