Is it a historical opportunity or a mistake? Israel assessed annexation plans

The July annexation of the territories of the West Bank in the framework of the US President’s “deal of a century” provoked a split in Israeli society: proponents of the spread of Israeli sovereignty consider the upcoming event a unique historical opportunity, opponents criticize the intentions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, both on the right and left.

Is it a historical opportunity or a mistake? Israel assessed annexation plans
Ksenia Svetlova, Arabist and expert at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, was among the 25 former Knesset deputies who signed an appeal to the US senators and congressmen against the upcoming annexation. The authors of the letter fear its negative consequences. Most Israelis share these concerns, the expert reported.

“The biggest block is the block of those who believe that annexation can only harm them”, – she said. According to her, supporters of this position are confident that “under no circumstances can anything be annexed, neither the Jordan Valley, nor specific settlements, settlement blocs, much less settlement outposts or the West Bank”.

“This is fraught, firstly, with complications here, regional with neighboring countries: Jordan, Egypt. It could threaten the peace process and spur terrorist activity in the West Bank, possibly also in the Gaza Strip. Weakening Fatah, weakening Abu Mazen due to growth Hamas’s popularity and everything that follows from it”, – the ex-parliamentarian believes.

Settlers themselves criticize annexation plans for another reason. Residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, to which they apply the historical name “Judea and Samaria”, suggest that the spread of Israeli sovereignty as part of the Trump century deal will have to pay for the creation and recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The “main thorn” of this plan is, of course, the creation of a Palestinian state, which the settlement movement has never recognized and will never recognize – neither the creation of any other state, nor any rights to our land by another people. And this is what causes such a sharp reaction with us”, – Shlomo Naaman, head of the settlement council of Gush Etzion, told the reporters.

According to one of the leaders of the settlement movement, there is no certainty that all Israeli settlements “below the green line” will be included in the “sovereignty card”.

“This is important for us. These are our residents, we are the people elected in these places. I have 22 settlements, of which five settlements remain outside the framework of sovereignty, I can’t agree to this at all. These are our people, we are elected for this, we believe in it. This is our ideology and our work”, – Naaman said.

A significant part of the settlers’ claims to the sovereignty distribution plan can be resolved in the near future in partnership with the US administration, Israeli Water and Higher Education Minister Zeev Elkin claimed. The minister from the ruling Likud party is confident that Israeli sovereignty will be extended to all Jewish settlements.

“All settlements will be included in the map of sovereignty. Settlers are really concerned about the issue of access and the roads that will be to remote settlements, and are still concerned about a number of issues, some of the points that they raise are really serious. We communicate with the Americans in order to solve these problems. Some of the problems will be solved, but I don’t think that everything can be solved. However, in principle, we are talking about a historic step for Israel”, – Elkin said.

The annexation plan can bring political dividends to its supporters only until its implementation, Svetlova is sure. The actual spread of sovereignty can lead to dramatic consequences and cause political instability in the country, the ex-deputy believes.

“If you imagine that now the Prime Minister is proclaiming the annexation, and a few days later the deadly terrorist attacks begin and Jordan breaks off relations with us, then it seems to me that this will negatively affect the popularity of the Prime Minister himself. And in general, over the past few years, Netanyahu has been a supporter of conflict management, and not rocking the boat. But the annexation, it is rocking of the boat itself, dangerous, fraught with unpredictable consequences for Israel”, – Svetlova says.

The Palestinian leadership has already announced the severance of all relations with Israel, including security cooperation. But the Likud’s representatives are not even afraid of the promise of the Palestinian leadership to proclaim an independent Palestinian state within the borders of the 67th year in response to the annexation, which was announced last Tuesday by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Staye. Supporters of Netanyahu call the upcoming annexation a guarantee of non-return to the borders of the 67th year and do not consider the threats of the Palestinian side to be significant.

“Therefore, the fight against terrorism and the threat of weapons is not new for us, we can deal with it. As for the cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the field of security, this is more of an interest for Fatah leaders than for Israel. If it weren’t for cooperation with Israel, Hamas would do the same thing that it had done to them in the Gaza Strip – overthrow this regime a long time ago”, – Elkin told RIA Novosti.

According to the minister, in the next month or two, Israel will extend its sovereignty to 30% of the territory of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) in the framework of the deal of a century. Elkin hopes that, despite today’s criticism of this decision, over time, the international community will accept the new borders of Israel.

Trump on January 28 introduced a peace plan known as the “deal of a century”. The White House plan recognizes Jerusalem as the single and indivisible capital of Israel, opens up the possibility for Israel to annex the Palestinian territories on the West Bank and extend its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, and also proposes the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state, devoid of control over its borders and airspace. As the future capital of Palestine, the plan proposes the village of Abu Dis in the eastern suburbs of Jerusalem. Palestinians and a number of countries did not accept this plan, since, in their opinion, it deprives the Palestinians of the right to those territories provided for by the UN resolutions.


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