Many EU leaders, Jews, and others are upset over the proposed extension of Israeli sovereignty to the Jewish population in Israel’s heartland, reclaimed 53 years ago during the defensive Six Day War. This will be accomplished by substituting Israeli civil law for military law in those area where Israeli citizens are living, thereby establishing a real border between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. Israel’s intended action is approved under the Peace to Prosperity Plan, contingent on Israel’s acceptance of a State of Palestine – a state subject to many restrictions meant to keep everyone safe.
Europeans are beating a dead horse about “annexation.” What do they expect if Israel “annexes” the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Line? Armies on the march, like what Germany did during WW2 overrunning Europe? (China is doing that in real time in the South China Sea. Are the Europeans up in arms over it?) For all intents and purposes, Israel’s sovereignty is a done deal which the Palestinian Arabs have been living with – but not accepting – since 1967, 53 years ago.
Recently, 11 European ambassadors to Israel warned Jerusalem of severe consequences if it moves ahead with plans to extend sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria (they call it the West Bank). The envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and the EU issued a formal objection to the Foreign Ministry against the move, Israeli Channel 13 reported. (Not all EU member states backed this warning.)
“We are very concerned about the clause in the coalition agreement that paves the way for annexing parts of the West Bank. The annexation of any part of the West Bank constitutes a clear violation of international law,” the ambassadors said. “Such unilateral steps will harm efforts to renew the peace process and will have grave consequences for regional stability and for Israel’s standing in the international arena.” (www.timesofisrael.com/ 4/30/20)
In my article of last week (https://israelseen.com/2020/04/27/steve-kramer-international-law-who-says/), I explained that international law is in the eye of the beholder. Looked at objectively and according to the United Nations’ own bylaws, Israel has a right to the entire former British Mandate for Palestine, which was designated as the Jewish National Home. This right was only fulfilled in the Six Day War of 1967. Israel pushed out the Jordanian occupiers of Judea and Samaria, the Syrian occupiers of the Golan Heights, and the Egyptian occupiers of the Gaza Strip. While Jewish ties, including sovereignty during some periods, stretches back thousands of years, the occupation of parts of the Land of Israel by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt lasted all of 19 years!
The bugaboo of “annexation” is a misconception. Israel is not – and cannot by definition be – the occupier of land which it historically inhabited. In fact, Jews are the native people of Israel. Not only that, Israel’s sovereignty was guaranteed in the UN Charter of 1945 by Article 80. In 1967, Israel extended its sovereignty over its heartland by establishing (sometimes reestablishing) communities throughout the Land of Israel. The Arabs and the Jews have thus been cohabiting on the land ever since.
So what are the Europeans (thankfully not all of them) objecting to? What they call annexation is simply the overdue extension of Israeli civil law to Israeli citizens in the aforementioned areas. Up to now, most legalities for Israeli citizens residing there have fallen under Israeli military law. This inappropriate and uncomfortable situation must be changed and that’s what Israel intends to do. That’s it. The Arabs and certain Europeans may vehemently object, but for Palestinian Arabs living alongside Jews there is no material change.
What about the vaunted two-state solution? These complaining Europeans declare that “annexation” will destroy the possibility of two states living side by side in peace. (Frankly, I’m not an advocate of another Muslim Arab state alongside of Israel in the Land of Israel. There are already 22 Arab states in the Middle East and one tiny Jewish state.) To the contrary, the agreement put forward by the US, while favoring Israeli sovereignty, requires Israel to agree to two states if all stipulations are met. US officials say that any Israeli claim of sovereignty must come “in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood based upon specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions and generous economic support.”
Accordingly, the Palestinian Arabs must halt terrorism, agree not to endanger Israel’s security in any way, and accept Israeli control of its air space, plus other strictures to “guarantee” peace. In return, there could be a Palestinian state with a huge monetary bonanza for development.
All of the tenets of the American “Peace to Prosperity Plan” are necessary because of the Arabs’ unrelenting attempts to usurp Israel and throw the Jews into the sea (literally!), extending “Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” These attacks have been unabated since the passage of the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine and Israel’s subsequent declaration of independence in 1948.
But since independence, Israel has prospered mightily, becoming a member of the exclusive Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 37 member countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Israeli is an acknowledged economic, military, medical, and technological leader. It is also despised by some of the European countries mentioned above and by many Muslim countries.
The Europeans are beating a dead horse about Israeli sovereignty in its heartland. That horse has left the barn. Instead of the usual appeasement of the Arabs, the European leaders should promote Palestinian Arab interests by accepting – for the umpteenth time – a way to improve their position. As any astute observer cannot help but notice, intransigence only results in a weakening of what’s on offer for the Palestinian Arabs, not the opposite.