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Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive

Land seizures, annexations, and conquest. These are words axiomatic to the state of Israel. In the main, the state has maintained an uncomfortable position based on patience and attrition. We have waited this long; you will wait longer. Be it dispossessed Palestinians and their aspirations for state recognition or what are loosely described as the objections of the “international community,” Israel has imperial staying power. Be patient, and the rage over the abuse of Palestinians will die down.

It is that staying power that navigates the often feeble exhortations to international law that pullulate airwaves and diplomatic traffic. Be it the legality of international settlements, attacks on sovereign countries that have not been given the legitimising wash of the UN Security Council, or Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons – all of these are frowned upon, condemned only to be assimilated into a ceremony of legitimacy. Israel might well be condemned and scolded, but nothing more will come of it. The game of semantics will be played, masking the exertion of brute force.

This pattern threatens to reassert itself in the latest warnings directed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise of annexation. The timetabling for this muscular assertion of land pinching remains vague. It is intended to apply to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in the Jordan Valley from this month.

The promise seems, on paper, audacious, foolish, and destructive – and that’s just for starters. Benny Gantz warned that there was little reason to take such action, given the coronavirus crisis and the country’s economic ills. But for Netanyahu, every crisis needs a distraction, even if that distraction is another crisis.

Accordingly, explanations for this annexation drive vary. The “legacy” line of thinking is that Netanyahu wants to leave something to remember him by. David Horowitz ponders the point. “Has Netanyahu decided that this is to be his legacy – as the Israeli leader who formally, permanently reconnected modern Israel to its formative biblical territory? Well, maybe.” Then come those reasons motivated by psychology (keep the people busy with something else instead of focusing on the corruption trial) and ideology (habitual expansionist aided by Washington right-wingers).

Various foreign governments have strong words on the point, but they are not likely to affect the balance sheet of considerations. Netanyahu’s tactics in dealing with the Palestinians tend to be finessed upon domestic considerations and moderated by winds of Washington. Those winds have tended to blow warmly in his favour. In 2017, the Trump administration recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, though remained abstruse on the scope of sovereignty. President Donald Trump’s peace plan gave Netanyahu much confidence to cock a snook at the Palestinians and his detractors. As he explained to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Israel is prepared to conduct negotiations on the basis of President Trump’s peace plan, which is both creative and realistic, and will not return to the failed formulas of the past.”

European powers have done their bit to make a fuss. European Union foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell promised in February that annexation, were it to be implemented “could not pass unchallenged.” But opposition within the EU to the measure is taking place in different registers. Germany, for instance, will not accept the imposition of economic sanctions, the very thing that Palestinian figures such as Saeb Erekat urge.

On July 7, the foreign ministers of Egypt, France, Germany and Jordan clubbed together to issue a joint warning. “We concur that any annexation of Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 would be a violation of international law and imperil the foundations of the peace process.” The ministers when on to state that they “would not recognise any changes to the 1967 borders that are not agreed by both parties in the conflict.” Taking such steps “would have serious consequences for the security and stability of the region, would constitute a major obstacle to efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive and just peace.” An attempt to barb the statement was also made. “It could also have consequences for the relationship with Israel.”

The soothsayers are also in evidence in such publications as Foreign Policy. Philip H. Gordon and Robert Malley claim that this annexation push “won’t trigger a disaster.” Interest will initially focus on Palestinian protest, the fate of the Palestinian Authority, the threats by Arab states to sever “budding ties” or the imposition of sanctions by European states. The “aftermath”, however, promises to “be toxic for the Jewish state.” Not only does it breach international law and violate Palestinian rights, it will poison the already troubled waters which nourish the state, affecting democracy even as it isolates Israel. Israel’s already diminished fan club would get even smaller.

In all this violent fuss, there may be yet another side to the overture: the pure bluff. As Netanyahu likes to often claim in deflecting interest in his criminal charges, “There is nothing because there is nothing.” Israel’s new opposition leader Yair Lapid, is simply not convinced by the plans, confining them to the already full bin of political spin. Naftali Bennett of the Habayit Hayehudi party is even more direct. “When I see Netanyahu talking about this so often, I’m convinced more and more that he’s not going to do it. If you want to do it, then do it.”

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5 comments

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  1. DrakeN

    Only when the world powers acknowlege that the current Israeli government, and several preceeding it are expansionist, and essentially terrorist, will there be any possibility of a resolution of this conflict.
    What started in 1948 as a hope for a Jewish homeland has evolved into a determined attempt to create a Zionist mini-empire.
    What was a defence against a Palestinian effort to prevent the establishment of an Israeli state has transformed into an aggressive determination to subjugate the people of Palestine by whatever means available using the excuse of ancient political boundaries.
    In this I am in total agrrement with my ex-patriot Jewish friends who condemn these Israeli atrocities.

  2. Jack Cade

    Israel does what it does because the UN charter allows vetos. The US and the UK can veto anything they don’t like. That makes the UN a crippled concept from its very birth. And having it’s HQ in America can’t help.
    To criticise Israel over the territories is howled down as ‘Anti-Semitic, but the Palestine people are semites, too.

  3. Phil

    There will be no two state solution. The only land the Palestinians can look forward too, is the plot they will all eventually be buried in. Sooner or later Israel will disappear into the Mediterranean, when their main enemy gets the bomb and chances are when they do if provoked, they’ll use it. Every time I turn on the news I think is this the last day for my family and I on this planet. It all with a bit of compromise from all sides, could have all turned out so different. What a nightmare. To think me and my families lives are in the hands of a pair of nutters like Netanyahu and Trump, scares me to death.

  4. Jack Cade

    Its as if the world decided that Native-Americans should have their own country, and shifted all
    the people out of Rhode Island or New Hampshire under arrned guard.
    The Palestinians did nothing to anybody, and suddenly get presented with a bunch of people – the bulk of which had tenuous connections to the ‘Holy Land’ and even if they did it was a thousand years ago – saying ‘This is our land.’ It doesnt really pass muster, does it?
    I admire the Israelis: I really do. Jews are remarkable people. I understand that they are aggressive and defensive in the face of incredible threats from all the surrounding countries, and may well feel the same, but my ancestors came from Ireland and I don’t fancy my chances of marching into Connemara with the UN at my back. And doing to an Innocent people what Israel says the world did to them is no way to foster peace in our time.

  5. wam

    The jews consider themselves to be in the ‘race class and are quick to play the game ‘hard’. One day the palestinians may challenge the old testament and defeat the underlying base of Israel it would be fun to watch.
    I made an attempt in the heaady times after the cyclone to show a couple of old women that the 19thC poms were using death camps and the jews were the terrorists in the ME. Anti-semitism was not as hateful as it is now. There are plenty of labor politicians who condemn the israeli land grab.

    ps
    Let’s not forget china(16), france(18) and russia(141) to the septics(83) and the poms(32)
    Depending on you ancestral /name/ you could walk into connemara and claim land pre-1300ad annexation by “The Ó Cadhla (Kealy) clan were the rulers of Connemara up until the 13th century, when they were displaced by the Ó Flaithbertaighs. The latter had fled into Iar Connacht from Maigh Seola.
    Similarly pre-97 II pushed for the Taiwanese to deport the chiang kai chek’s mob back to china via hong kong. That used to stir the clp anti-commos

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