Will Bibi Run Out of The Time for Annexation Plan?

On May 14, 1948 in an elite Israeli forum, Ben Gurion asked Haganah officials who did not have fighter planes, what would be the chances of Israel if the declaration of the founding of country was declared immediately. The commander’s answer was 50:50. After that, the declaration of the State of Israel was read by David Ben Gurion. On May 14, 1948, all Jews danced happily. They rejoiced because they considered the promised land in the lap. But actually not everyone was happy, David Ben Gurion was the most agitated person at the time. He called Shimon Peres and said, “Today they can be happy, but tomorrow there will be bloodshed”.

After the declaration, Britain would certainly leave the Land of Israel. And other certainty, Arab countries were certainly ready to burn Israel. In fact the Arab world did not boast about it. Only a day later, on May 15, 1948, the day after Ben Gurion read the declaration of the birth of the state of Israel, Egyptian spitfire planes were not polite to drop bombs on Israel. Bus terminals, shops, public facilities in Tel Aviv were destroyed. Arabs were even preparing to prove that Hitler’s Holocaust was not too much, Arabs were ready to pass it.

For Jews, there was no sweet choice. So far they had no state, when successfully declaring a country, there was no other choice but to keep it until the last drop of blood. The UN Session had sided with Israel, the majority of votes agreed that Palestine was divided in two, one for Palestinians, another for Jews, although the Palestinian ruler himself, Britain, did not give his voice in the UN Session, abstained. But the relief did not last long, the fact that Israel stood in a circle of Arab countries ready to devour it to ashes.

Seeing that condition, Ben Gurion told Simon Peres, “without weapons, let alone fighter planes, it is impossible to win the war against the Arabs. I will go to America to get weapons while gathering airforce power”.  According to Ben Gurion, America is a solution, where he could get everything for war there. But what was the case, Truman’s position was not entirely clear. Although at the United Nations the United States supported the founding of the Isreal state, but through the interior ministry, Truman forbade all Americans from participating in the battle for Israel. For those who were forced to leave, their citizenship would be revoked. Truman was quite sure that the founding of the state of Israel would never be smooth because the Arab world would crush it. Unfortunately, the Arab world are mostly an American alies. Even worse, America embargoed all types of shipping materials and goods for war to Israel, from any country.

Fortunately in America, there was Al Schwimmer, an aeronautical engineer, who was willing to spend and buy a dozen C46 planes from the second world war and some constellations to fix them. After the war, American warplanes lined up obscurely in several fields. By using the hands of veterans, a dozen more C46 aircraft could be bought. The planes had to be repaired first. And Al Schwimmer placed him in an area in California, while repairing and opening several vacancies in secret for Jewish pilots. Therefore, to this day Al Schwimmer is known as one of the founders of the Israeli airforce.

As history records, heavy fighting took place between the State of Israel which was still very infantile, with the Arab countries. Many volunteers came to offer assistance to this new country. And fortunately, Israel managed to provide extraordinary resistance. Until finally the end of 1948 Israel managed to surround Egyptian forces in the Gaza Strip and Egypt declared itself surrender. On January 7, 1948, the UN finally announced a ceasefire for the two countries.

But a second major conflict happened, known as the Suez Crisis erupted in 1956, when Israel, the United Kingdom and France staged a controversial attack on Egypt in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal. An era of relative calm prevailed in the Middle East during the late 1950s and early 1960s, but the political situation continued to rest on a knife edge. Arab leaders were aggrieved by their military losses and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees created by Israel’s victory in the 1948 war.

Then,  the Six-Day War was a brief but bloody conflict fought in June 1967 between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Following years of diplomatic friction and skirmishes between Israel and its neighbors, Israel Defense Forces launched preemptive air strikes that crippled the air forces of Egypt and its allies. Israel then staged a successful ground offensive and seized the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. The brief war ended with a U.N.-brokered ceasefire, but it significantly altered the map of the Mideast and gave rise to lingering geopolitical friction.

But On October 6, 1973, hoping to win back territory lost to Israel during the third Arab-Israeli war, in 1967, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Taking the Israeli Defense Forces by surprise, Egyptian troops swept deep into the Sinai Peninsula, while Syria struggled to throw occupying Israeli troops out of the Golan Heights. Israel counterattacked and recaptured the Golan Heights. A cease-fire went into effect on October 25, 1973.

I deliberately return to the story of the initial struggle of the nation of Israel to defend its land, to get a deep historical view of Israel’s position in modern history and in the geopolitical constellation of the Middle East. That Israel is bound by a history of conflict that is difficult to diffuse, especially if Israel chooses to take an expansionist (annexing) policy. Israelis can still choose to live peacefully, by not supporting any type of ruling policy that plunges Israel and Palestine into a prolonged armed conflict.

The arrangement supposedly seeks to resolve the Palestinian question by attempting to bribe Palestinians into granting Israel more land. They are expected to demilitarize without Israel doing the same and to accept a nonviable Bantustan in lieu of meaningful statehood, in return for meeting a long list of ludicrous conditions set out by their oppressors, including giving up the right of their refugees to return to their homes, and letting Israel and the United States either choose who governs Gaza or keep the territory unlivable.

In this perspective, Netanyahu who is very conservative, aggressive, and expansionist, certainly needs to be balanced with critical public power, balancing opposition, and international pressures, so that the potential for a bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine will not be more prominent. Israeli history teaches that the option to get peace is by peaceful means, not by provocative, aggressive, and expansionist policies, namely annexation.

The first time Netanyahu sat as prime minister, he could not immediately execute his settlement plan due to Bill Clinton of Democrat Party was in power in the US. Clinton’s heart was upset because the Camp David Treaty was in danger after Yitzhak Rabin was struck in the end of  a peaceful rally to support warm relation between Israel and Palestine. Bibi (Netanyahu Nickname) who from the beginning opposed the Camp David deal, had to negotiate and make peace with Clinton. Bibi was forced to shake hands with Yaser Arafat, then holding several meetings to fulfill Clinton’s ambitions. But at that time, Bibi was indeed impressed trying to slow down the peace process. On other hand, his political impression declined in the Israeli right wing because he was considered to be part of the Yitzhak Rabin rhythm. As a result, Bibi was knocked out of the Israeli Prime Minister’s seat

Unfortunately, when he was re-elected in 2009, Obama from the Democratic Party was also in power in the US. Their first meeting in May 2009, was very disappointing Bibi. Obama rejected Netanyahu’s settlement plan. Even Obama looked very tough on Israel because he wanted to improve relations with Islamic countries. Even more obvious, on Obama’s visit to Egypt and several other Arab countries, Obama really passed through Israel, without trying to stop at all.

When Arab Spring surged, especially in Egypt, Obama flinched. While Bibi was worried, the power vacuum in Egypt could open up opportunities for Islamic hardliners to rule. On the other hand, Obama realized that Bibi had a point. It is not easy to bring democracy to the Islamic world. Finally, Obama supported Israel to return to the border agreement in 1967. But the problem, only the concept offered by Obama was not what Bibi imagined. Obama’s offer was considered by Bibi to trigger a big war. Tension ensued between them. Bibi flew to America, met Obama, even impressed by lecturing Obama about the Middle East at the time.

Bibi dislike to Obama was evident in the 2012 American presidential election. He came to the US to meet Mitt Romney and promised support from the American Jewish community. And the peak occurred in 2015, where the Democratic Party lost the majority of votes in the American Congress, both at House and at the Senate. Bibi came back to America, gave a speech in Congress against Obama about a plan for peaceful diplomacy with Iran regarding Peace Nuclear Agreement. Obama really felt in the Coup, but what could he do, Congress at that time belonged to the Republican Party.

And when Bibi become Prime Minister again this year, the moment was different. Republic Party is in power. Donald Trump can actually be a strategic partner in accordance with Bibi’s conservative political platform. Trump has proven his serious allegiance to Israel by moving the American embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But, Bibi’s position is like a race against time. To smooth the plan back to the 1967 border agreement, West bank’s annexation, Bibi needs Donald Trump to remain in power. The problem is, the pandemic comes. The plan must be postponed. And unfortunately again, Donald Trump is on the edge. His position is threatened in elections next November. Almost all surveys favor Joe Biden. So, will Bibi Netanyahu run out of the time for his third term? Let’s see.

About the Author
An International Political Economy and Strategic Analyst, A Senior Fellow at Indonesia Economic Action Institution/EconAct
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