Yoel Oz
Co-Founder of the Abrahamic Movement

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

July 1 is only a few weeks away.

My intention here is not to argue for or against Israeli annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria/West Bank. I will leave that to others. The approach that I adopt is called Abrahamic Federalism and the question of whether an Abrahamic Federation is more likely to arise with or without annexation is an open one.
As is in any intelligence analysis, what needs to be discussed are what are the real possibilities of what could happen in the days, weeks and months after such action, and assessing the risks and choices we will be faced with.
First, along with every action comes a reaction. What will be the Palestinian response to annexation? What will the Arab and Muslim worlds’ response be? What will the European response be? What will the American response be? What will be the response of American Jewry and the Democratic party, should they retake the White House in November?
There are a lot of open questions. Let us put them all on the table. Will the PA decide to dissolve itself? Mahmoud Abbas is 84. Who will be his successor? How will Hamas respond to the possible collapse of the PA and power plays in a post-Abbas succession? Will there be a civil war as there was in Gaza in 2007? Will the armed militias return to the streets as they did during the 2nd intifada?
Right now, things are relatively stable. But what happens if Hamas operatives decide to open fire on Israeli cars in the West Bank? What if there is a kidnapping? What roles will Hamas in Gaza, Hizballah in Lebanon and Iran play in trying to stir the pot?
The point here is that things could cycle out of control very rapidly. We are going into an unknown situation and we don’t really have a plan for how to get out of it.
Netanyahu has basically promised that he will go ahead with annexation and accept the Trump plan. He wants to move as fast as possible before the matter becomes a football in the American presidential election in November. Israel can expect serious blowback from the Europeans and the international community. Russia (which ironically annexed Crimea against the will of the international community) will probably oppose the US if it attempts to support Israel’s moves. Expect for there to be deadlock in the UN Security Council.
The Palestinians are in a situation where they must respond. There is popular support for “punishing” Israel for “stealing more land”. It’s not just the security coordination that is at stake. It means, in Palestinian eyes, a declaration of war against the Palestinian people, and Israel pursuing what will be called a policy of apartheid.
How the Palestinians respond could very well determine the course of the next months and years. Expect Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh to use it as a spring board for being Mahmoud Abbas’ successor. There will be conflict between him and Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian security services, over power. If the Palestinians look the other way while Hamas pulls the trigger and pursues attacks on Israeli targets, expect there to be chaos in the streets, as Israel will definitely retaliate, and this could cause another cycle that will be difficult to extricate from.
If there is then an attempt on the part of what is left of the PA to crack down on Hamas, or if the PA dissolves itself, expect Hamas to retaliate fiercely and try to exact revenge for the years it was put down. Worst case scenario is a bloody internal Palestinian civil war.
On the international front, expect a “diplomatic intifada”. All options will be on the table, most seriously the politicization of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Palestinians will also seek unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, on the 1967 lines, by European countries.
What will happen in the United States is particularly unpredictable as President Trump is unpredictable himself. The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is a strong friend of Israel’s, but Trump is ultimately the boss, and no one knows how he will respond from day to day. This unpredictability will be utilized by forces that are trying to sow chaos and disorder. Expect Iran to try to take advantage of the situation.
Going back to the beginning, all of these are reasons to come to the conclusion that coexistence and cooperation, under an Abrahamic Federal model, is a way to prevent all of the risks for bloodshed that will be likely if we continue on our current paths.
It is still unclear how the leaders of Blue and White, Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, will act in this situation. Gantz has said publicly that he supports annexation of the Jordan Valley, but has been silent on the rest of Area C and the settlements. Parts of the Israeli settler community also reject the Trump plan because it calls for a Palestinian state and the setting up of isolated enclaves.
I believe that the Abrahamic Movement’s path could forestall all of these negative scenarios. We have to stop banging our heads against the wall and recognize that we are stuck with each other, and that cooperation, not conflict, is the only path to a peaceful and prosperous future. We need to be talking to political leaders to show that there is a way out of this morass.
We owe it to ourselves and our children to do everything we can to save lives and make this land that we all call Home a better place.
About the Author
Yoel Oz is the co-founder of the Abrahamic Movement. He served as an Orthodox rabbi and educator in the Washington, DC metro area for five years. He studied at Cornell and Yeshiva Universities and Yeshivat Hamivtar and Yeshivat Rabbenu Yitzchak Elchanan. He currently resides with his wife and daughter in a suburb of Tel Aviv.