We are being told tonight about the establishment of an "National Emergency Government," yet somehow annexation in the West Bank has found its way to its top priority. An announcement on annexation, slated for July 1st, will not be done in the context of negotiations and agreed-upon land swaps, but unilaterally. It will not be based on bringing security and peace to Israel, but based on the politically expedient desire to pander to ideological prejudice.
The public did not choose for Israel go down this extreme path; most of the public does not want annexation. The security echelon warns of the implications of annexation. Annexation costs will be much higher than the debilitating costs of the Covid-19 crisis. Most of all, annexing territories without giving full citizenship rights to the millions of Palestinians who would be left in nominally autonomous enclaves under Israeli rule would spell an end to Israel's democracy. Whether annexing one settlement or all of the settlements, such a move would constitute the foundation to an apartheid state. Annexation is bad for Israel.
So who is annexation good for? It is to that ideological fringe, which for years has been enjoying budget flows to illegal outposts as the rest of Israel swoons under record-level housing prices, paving bypass roads for every settlement when the rest of Israel is stuck in traffic jams, and doing all it can to keep Israel entangled in the West Bank at the cost of perpetuating the conflict.
To Benny Gantz we say, "Don't sell us stories about an emergency government to fight the coronavirus when you are in fact a partner in establishing an annexation government. Anyone who bolsters the far right now will be responsible in the future if annexation is implemented and Israel's democratic future is imperiled."
Below is a breakdown of reasons why annexation is not in Israel’s national interest:
A unilateral move – Determining facts on the ground in a unilateral fashion makes a statement that Israel does not support peace and runs against prior agreements Israel has signed on to. Future annexation of some of the areas in the West Bank near the Green Line to Israel must be done only in the framework of final status negotiations and on the basis of minor, 1:1 land swaps for final borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state
Serious violation of the two-state solution – The annexation of the settlements will sweep the West Bank, preventing a Palestinian territorial continuum needed to reach a mutually agreed-upon two-state solution in the future.
Risk of deterioration into another wave of violence – Unilateral move could frustrate the Palestinian street and drag the area into another round of violence, as senior security officials have repeatedly warned.
Reinforcing Palestinian extremists – Unilateral annexation, without negotiations, is a blow to the moderates on the Palestinian side who still believe in the dialogue and a two-state solution, and it strengthens extremists who support one-state solution and the ongoing struggle against Israel.
Damage to relations with Egypt and Jordan – Annexation will lead to unprecedented damage to relations with Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel has signed a peace treaty and cannot come to terms with unilateral annexation.
International crisis – Annexation of parts of the occupied territories and the application of sovereignty which contravene international law. Unilateral annexation that is not agreed upon and not done in the context of land swaps will not be recognized by Israel’s allies who support the two-state solution and risk leading Israel to a severe international crisis or prolonged deterioration in relations.
Throwing significant encouragement to the boycott and BDS movements – Instead of insisting on a just and moral separation between the sovereign and legitimate state of Israel and the occupied territories and settlements, the government blurs the lines between the two, thereby strengthening the movements calling for boycotting Israel and proclaiming that the occupation is a fig leaf for an apartheid Israeli state between the river and the sea.
As the settler right will surely promote annexation in the next government, it will send a message to the citizens of Israel, the Palestinians and the entire world that Israel favors the continuing bloody conflict and apartheid policy over democracy and peace. Responsible lawmakers must not give it a hand!