Uri Ariel, Israel’s agriculture minister and a member of Bennett’s Jewish Home party, has proposed the annexation of Area C of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Area C is the largest of the “occupied” territories, comprising 60 percent of the combined Jewish and Palestinian population. All of the Jewish settlements are located in Area C.
Annexation of this territory by Israel would be condemned by the United Nations and all the nations of the world as illegal and a violation of international law according to the tenets of the Geneva Convention.
More significant is Uri Ariel’s intention to “transfer” the Palestinian population out of Area C. “Transfer” them to where? The number of Palestinians residing in Area C differs according to who is counting. Some list the Arab population at 357,000 while the Israeli military lists it at approximately 50,000.
Transfer is a definite violation of international law. People who were born in and have lived in a specific area all of their lives have the right to remain there living in peace. It has never been declared that the Palestinian population in Area C presents a threat or danger to Israelis or to Israel.
At the end of World War II, there were population exchanges in Europe, specifically between Poland and Germany. Germans who had lived in Silesia were forced to remove themselves to Germany and cities with former German names (Breslau and Danzig, for example) were now re-named as Wroclaw and Gdansk. Transfer of peoples after the war was very common and there was no international outcry.
Our situation is different. There has been no declared war against the Palestinians. Many of them engage in terrorism and acts of brutal hostility against us and a great majority of Israelis would wish for and would probably support Uri Ariel’s idea of annexation.
Annexation is one thing. I am in favor of it despite the ubiquitous world condemnation. But transfer of population is another thing. And I am opposed to it.
Ariel’s proposal is to grant the Palestinians a choice of Israeli citizenship, rights of residence, or transfer to Jordan.
Most Palestinians, if forced to make a decision, would probably opt for the rights of residence. They would not wish to become Israeli citizens and neither they nor the Jordanian government would agree to their re-settlement in the Hashemite Kingdom.
A forced transfer to Jordan would end the peace treaty between us and the Kingdom of Jordan, something we do not want.
And if we were to annex Area C, what would become of Areas A and B, almost totally Palestinian?
Uri Ariel finds it easy to make proposals but he does not have the answers. And at this stage, no one in Israel does. The Netanyahu government is in chaos and its majority in the coalition hangs in the balance.
Once we had the Wise Men of Chelm. Where are they today when we need them? We could always count on them for the answers, foolish and impractical, but very Jewish.
Regrettably there are too many Chelm clones sitting in power in Jerusalem.
Maybe one of them will propose that we should annex Ramallah!