Annexation: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As I write this, it’s not clear at all whether Israel’s new government—despite the date of July 1st set for it in its coalition agreement—will indeed go ahead with the annexation plan of some thirty percent of the West Bank, including all settlements blocks and the Jordan Valley. Contrary to common belief and perception, Netanyahu himself might not be so keen on executing this plan, without a clear mandate from Trump. Also, now that the most ardent political rightwing party supporting such a move isn’t in his government, but in the opposition, he may hesitate to take all the blame himself on such a problematic, historical step. And he will, therefore, possibly, continue to maintain the status quo, ‘managing the situation,’ in which he’s so good at and have done so for so long. It worked well for him until now, so why change it? Let’s examine.

The Good: As someone who not only has opposed to the annexation throughout his life, following the Six-Day War, but also has protested and detested vehemently the settlement endeavor, how can I now find any good in it? Well, let me tell you. Simply because this said annexation, for all intends and purposes, is a fait accompli. It’s a done deal, for quite some years now. There’s no conceivable Palestinian state to be found, unfortunately, and no two-state solution either. It is dead. And not from today. In actuality, there’s only a ‘One-State’ solution. Only Israel and Netanyahu are keeping it under wrap and disguise. There’s no going back. It’s much better for the Palestinian leadership to understand and accept this—which I believe most Palestinian people know and accept—and go from there. They should insist on sharing responsibility to the old/new Israel-Palestine State, with equal rights to all its citizens.

The Bad: There’s no way that Israel, and Israel’s citizens, will accept the above solution. As it will mean—sooner or later—the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Alternately therefore, it will mean Israel will continue to control the West Bank in its entirety, will continue to harass and terrorize the Palestinian people, and mostly but clearly: It means an Apartheid-like state. Which is not only bad but disastrous internationally for Israel. A state, a country that was established and built on the ashes of the Holocaust, and generation and centuries of pogroms, persecutions, and denial of basic human rights to Jews not only in Europe, but throughout the world. To do so, inflict the same on another people, on the Palestinians presently, will mean not only the end of Israel as a democratic nation, not only would open a wide chasm with Jews in America and Europe, but will pull the rug from under the entire Zionist dream and endeavor.

The Ugly: As detailed here in a previous blogpost – ‘The Battle That Never Ended” (March 25, 2018), and was published also in Moment Magazine online – before the short and decisive Six-Day War was over, a group of respected Palestinian leaders and elders (and remember, the Palestinian people didn’t initiate, nor participated in that war), wrote a letter to the Israeli government proposing basically the principles of a Two-State solution, with full recognition of Israel by the Palestinians. To this day, they’re still waiting for a response. The reason they didn’t receive a response yet, and the reason why—despite numerous attempts, by some leaders in Israel and abroad—there was never a chance they would get a response, is because Israel never really intended on pulling back from the West Bank. The settlement movement enjoyed the support of all Israeli governments, and except President Bush the father, the support of all American administrations. And the support, until lately (now that it’s too late), of the vast majority of American Jews. Some European countries, who had read correctly the sign on the wall, never really did anything meaningful except shouting “wolf!”

But now that the “wolf” is here, these countries are shouting it yet again. It won’t help. The ugly reality is that Israel has brought upon itself the conundrum it finds itself in. It never meant to withdraw. The occupation—and therefore the annexation—started the day after the Six-day War, and never ceased to exist and prosper. Nothing can change that situation now. The last chance, the last leader who had the power to reverse course—and apparently realized his own and Israel’s grave mistakes in their obsession with “facts on the ground”—was Ariel Sharon. But like Sadat, Rabin, and Arafat (though unlike them he wasn’t assassinated) he paid for it with his life, though in somewhat different circumstances. We, Israelis and Jews, are now stuck with it.

One Final Word: We live in a time of grave global pandemic, the coronavirus. In Israeli hospitals, Palestinian and Israeli Arab doctors and nurses played a significant role in taking care, regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion, of the sick and the dying. Their contribution, and ability to work side by side with Israeli doctors and nurses, might signal the way to go. The future of coexistence, under one state to come, might be here to stay.

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