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AUGUST 2020

Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive

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Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive

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Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

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.”

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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  • alejandro casalegno

    The fight for Palestine is only 70 years old, t will not live to see the end………….bur Palestine will be free!!!!

    • <>

      Free yourself too from this world alejandro, no one gives a shit about what you think.

  • verner

    the jews have taken a page out of hitler’s book – viz. lebensraum or extending the available land by theft (and murder of course). and let’s not forget the page on concentration camps a la hitler, say gaza and say concentration camp. do the world need the jews – answer is no, they are disposable and need to go.

  • Veritas Vincit

    The Israelis have long employed a perpetual ‘peace process’ to facilitate gradual settlement expansion (land theft). Sensing the possibility of triggering a backlash in the form of a broader regional (multi-front) conflict, reports indicate the Israelis are transitioning again to a gradual annexation format (perceived as a safer approach to ongoing land theft). But such calculations are based on addressing immediate concerns and not recognising what is already unfolding.

    Through its military aggressions against Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah coalition forces, a state of war already exists albeit in a preliminary stage. For example:

    -“[the Israelis] must know that they have committed a historic mistake. This is not a simple blunder. They committed an act of great stupidity, and by this aggression, they entered in a direct confrontation with Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran…….. I stress that it constitutes a turning point in the situation of the region. What follows will be very different from what preceded it…… And when the Israelis committed this stupid act, they had some assessment (of the situation), but I tell them that their evaluation is false.” (Hassan Nasrallah: Israel has come into direct confrontation with Iran, TheSaker,
    May 02, 2018)
    http://thesaker.is/hassan-nasrallah-israel-has-come-into-direct-confrontation-with-iran/

    The unfolding conflict is being conducted in a restrained manner with preparations for a more profound stage of conflict evident. As Israel is pursuing a Judaisation process that also targets key Islamic sites, a component of this developing conflict is likely to involve an eventual Holy War:

    – Hamas says Israeli violations at al-Aqsa will ignite ‘all-out regional war’, PressTV, Oct 21, 2019

    – “The gathering holy war. Slowly, Israel is transforming a settler-colonial project against the Palestinians into a battle with the wider Islamic world. It is turning a territorial conflict into a holy war.” (How the Rule of the Rabbis Is Fueling a Holy War in Israel, by Jonathan Cook, Antiwar, February 23, 2019), etc……

    The foundations of a broad regional conflagration are in place. With recognition of ongoing escalations/acts of aggression, limits of restraint are likely in time to be exceeded while crossed lines will require adequate retaliation. Again, it is important to observe what is occurring. War is in an active phase and the direction of events have a logical outcome. At that time the crimes Israel has committed against regional populations will likely blowback on it. The blowback is likely to be as cruel and vicious as the atrocities Israel has committed (having set a precedent for such behaviour). Indeed it can be said as they have sown so shall they reap.

    Note: This likely approaching situation is only an aspect of broader global developments.

  • <>

    Going back to 1948 all the time like it is some kind of a sacred year we should never forget. Please SF, cut the bullshit. They started all the wars and lost in every war against us, what we won is by our blood and it will remain under our control for eternity. The Jordan Valley is just another small part of the puzzle we need to add.