The Coming Annexation

Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal

There has been much talk about Annexation of the Area C settlements in the West Bank (i.e. Yehuda and Shomron), and I believe that we are definitely moving in that direction.

According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Area C is where Israel maintains both security and civilian control. It represents about 60% of the West Bank and is of vital importance to the State of Israel and its future, and therefore is soon likely to be annexed.

The justification for annexation includes all of the following:

  • Captured Fair and Square: Israel captured the West Bank in a war of self-defense in 1967. First in 1948, when Israel was established, it was the Arab League that did not accept the U.N.’s partition of the land into a Jewish State and an Arab State. The surrounding Arab countries attacked Israel, at which time Jordan conquered the West Bank and occupied it for almost 20 years. Then in the Six Day War,  Jordan attacked Israel, and lost the West Bank, and similarly, Syria attacked and lost the Golan Heights.
  • Annexation is Routine: While annexation is generally deemed illegal by the international community, the fact of the matter is that it is routine for countries around the world. If annexation is illegal and to be consistently enforced then all the following annexations would need to be reversed: India’s of Kashmir (2019), Norway’s of Queen Maud Land (2015), Russia’s of Crimea (2014), Morocco’s of Western Sahara (1976), North Vietnam’s of South Vietnam (1975), Indonesia’s of West Timor (1976) and of Western New Guinea (1969), Ethiopia’s of Eritrea (1962), and Britain of Rockall (1955).
  • Reality on The Ground: Israel has around 450,000 settlers in the West Bank in about 130 settlements (the vast majority in Area C) and 300,000 live in East Jerusalem (the later which Israel already annexed in 1967). These Israelis are living in and working the land and building it productively, and many are deeply nationally, religiously and ideologically tied to the biblical Promised Land of the Jewish people that includes the West Bank (and even beyond). It is wholly irrational to think that this multitude of Israeli citizens would be uprooted or abandoned under any circumstance.
  • Militarily Strategic: Under the borders pre-1967, Israel is smaller than the size of the State of Maryland. Further, with a depth of just nine miles to Netanya, 11 miles to Tel Aviv, and 10 miles to Be’er Sheva, Israel is extremely narrow and strategically vulnerable to attack. The Area C settlements and Jordan Valley corridor provides critical depth, mountainous (high ground) topography, and vital radar and surveillance stations and forward operating bases for Israel’s military defense. In Netanyahu’s book, “A Durable Peace,” according to a 1967 Pentagon white paper for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, they conclude that Israel needs to maintain at least 80% of the West Bank and Golan Heights in order to minimally protect itself and this was reiterated in 1988 “as even more valid today” in order to have sufficient warning and mobilization time.  Whether from military attacks, terrorism, delegitimization, and BDS, Israel has been under constant attack since its founding, and Israel must hold firm in taking care of its absolute need for defensible borders no matter what the threat, pretext, or promise.
  • Precursor to Peace: Israel has tried to get a negotiated peace agreement and this has repeatedly failed despite any and all offers and attempts. The Oslo Peace Accords were concluded in 1993, but there was no substantive peace that resulted. In July 2000, President Clinton meet at Camp David for peace negotiations with Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and Israel offered 91% of the West Bank to make peace, and the Palestinians rejected it and made no counteroffer. Again, in December 2000 in the Final Status Agreement, Israel was willing to make truly painful concessions with an incredibly generous offer of about 95% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and compensating land swaps for the balance, a divided Jerusalem, and Palestinian statehood, and again even this “best offer,” was declined by the Palestinians. Yet again in 2005, in an effort to make peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, but rather than peace, they got Hamas terrorism, missiles and tunnels to attack, abduct, and murder Israelis. Moreover, after two Intifadas and thousands of dead and wounded in Israel, there is a real recognition that no offer of peace will be acceptable to the Palestinians and no withdrawal that will not be used as a base for further operations to purse Israel’s destruction. Any chance for a two-state solution, which was accepted multiple times by Israel was killed repeatedly by the Palestinian leadership.
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Unfortunately with a Palestinian leadership that is corrupt and which encourages, supports, and rewards militancy and terrorism, Israel has no viable partner and will need to make its own arrangements for the peace and security of its people. At the same time, Israel should always try to be humane and compassionate toward the Palestinians and continue to look for opportunities to reach out, help, and partner–including citizenship for some, job and economic opportunities, medical treatment, joint security arrangements, providing clean water and energy, and more. In the end, instead of empty words and agreements that are not ready to be accepted, real actions of caring and kindness will give peace its best chance yet to take hold.
  • Time of Redemption: From the ashes of the Holocaust to just three years later the miraculous founding of the State of Israel–like the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapter 37 of the dry bones resurrected with flesh–no one should doubt that we are living in the time of Redemption. The annexation of Area C in Yehuda and Shomron is part of the continued fulfillment of Hashem’s promise to return the Jews from exile, and is also religiously significant in housing the burial places of our patriarchs and matriarchs.
  • Timing Is Everything: Prime Minister Netanyahu is the longest serving leader of modern Israel, and he has been committed to the security of Israel including through the building of the settlements. Moreover in April, Netanyahu committed to the annexation of these settlements. This coincides with President Trump’s incredible support and generosity toward Israel and the Jewish people that included moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and the recognition of Israel sovereignty of the Golan Heights. While both Netanyahu and Trump are in power and with a strong partnership, the time may be ripe to annex area C, and we will see more soon what will be possible in the upcoming peace proposal.

Israel is the Promised Land and the one nation state for the Jewish people. Israel has absorbed millions of Jewish refugees from around the world. It is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs in twenty-two countries. Israel captured the West Bank in a war of self-defense and should be prepared to annex it for the peace and security of its people and the region. If Israel has faith, remains strong, recognizes the military, geographical, and sociological realities on the ground and provides for the depth and settlement of its people, while at the same time being compassionate to the Palestinians, then it will continue to survive and thrive as a State, a democracy, and as light unto the nations.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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