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Proposed Israeli annexation of the West Bank

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Annexation of the West Bank, or parts thereof, has been proposed by some Israeli politicians since the area was captured and occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.

East Jerusalem was the first part of the West Bank to be annexed; it was de facto annexed following its occupation by Israel in 1967, and de jure annexed following the 1980 Jerusalem Law.[1]

Israeli law has been applied to Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank, leading to a system of "enclave law" and claims of "creeping annexation".

Annexation of the Jordan Valley, first proposed in the 1967 Allon Plan, was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2019 as his plan, subject to the outcome of the September 2019 Israeli legislative election.

Proposals

Annexation of Israeli settlements

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his center-right Likud party do not have a coherent stance on the status of the West Bank. In 2009, Netanyahu endorsed the two-state solution, but before the April 2019 Israeli legislative election, he stated his intention of unilaterally annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. However, since this was a throwaway remark made without addressing the international opposition to such an action, it is unclear whether Netanyahu intends to follow through.[2][3]On 16 September, 2019, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio, Netanyahu said "I intend to extend sovereignty on all the settlements and the (settlement) blocs," including "sites that have security importance or are important to Israel’s heritage," including the settlements in Hebron.[4]

The application of Israeli law in the West Bank settlements has been described by commentators as "creeping annexation".[5][6]

Annexation of the Jordan Valley

September 2019 annexation proposal by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  Jordan Valley area to be annexed by Israel
  Rest of the West Bank, including Jericho

On 10 September 2019 (shortly before the September 2019 Israeli legislative election) Netanyahu announced his government's plan to annex the Jordan Valley, if it won the election. He also reaffirmed his previous pledge to annex all Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, but said such a move would not be made before publication of a long-awaited United States peace plan and consultations with President Donald Trump. According to B'Tselem, 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the area[7][8].According to PeaceNow, the proposal includes 30 settlements with 12,778 settlers, 18 illegal outposts, 15 Area A and B communities, including 44,175 Palestinians planned to remain under the nominal autonomous rule of the Palestinian Authority, surrounded by annexed territory with access roads, described by PeaceNow as "..alarmingly similar to the Bantustan formula in former Apartheid South Africa" and 48 shepherding communities in Area C including 8,775 Palestinians.[9][10] The area to be annexed is about 22% of the West Bank, 90% of which is in Area C and 20% of the land is Palestinian-owned; the map that Netanyahu displayed of the area to be annexed had several errors, incorrectly noting the location of several settlements and omitting Palestinian villages.[11][12]Netanyahu’s map is only a slightly revised version of the Allon Plan map, with the key difference being that the Palestinians are no longer offered access to the international border with Jordan.[13] Netanyahu said that he had received a green light from the United States' Donald Trump administration. The administration said that there had been no change in United States policy.[14][15]

The next day, there was international condemnation of the proposal from Palestinians, the Arab league, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, the UK and the UN, the latter stating "..that any Israeli move to impose its administration over the Palestinian territory would be illegal under international law."[16] Several Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum and Hebrew media outlets described this announcement as a political stunt for votes, with the former chief of staff and opposition Blue and White MK Moshe Ya'alon saying that Netanyahu had been prepared to evacuate Jordan Valley settlements in 2014.[17]

Annexation of Area C

Area C shown in blue.

The West Bank is divided into Area A, Area B, and Area C. Area C contains 60% of the West Bank's area and all Israeli settlements. According to OCHA there are about 300 thousand Palestinians in Area C[18] (B'tselem estimates between 180 and 300,000[19]) compared to some 2.8 million in Areas A and B.[20] The Jewish Home party's official position is in support of annexing Area C alone, although some of its MKs support annexation of the entire West Bank.[2] Leading up to the April 2019 elections, the New Right party, led by Naftali Bennett, Israeli foreign minister and Ayelet Shaked, justice minister, advocated for the unilateral annexation of Area C. Bennett estimates that his plan would involve offering Israeli citizenship to some 80,000 Palestinians living in Area C, which contradicts the UN estimate of 297,000 Palestinians in Area C.[21]

Annexation of the entire West Bank

Caroline Glick, a New Right MK candidate in the April 2019 elections, supports annexation of the entire West Bank.[22] Glick supports an application process for Israeli citizenship to Palestinians living in annexed areas, and anticipates that not all Palestinians would desire Israeli citizenship or be eligible.[23]

Opinion polling

A 2019 Haaretz poll investigated support for annexation among Israelis. According to the survey, 30% did not know, 28% of Israelis opposed any annexation and 15% supported annexing Area C alone. 27% wanted to annex the entire West Bank including 16% who opposed granting political rights to Palestinians and 11% who favored granting political rights.[24]

Opponents

In 2014, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said that his centrist party would leave the governing coalition and topple the government if any West Bank settlements were annexed. Tzipi Livni, leader of the centrist Hatnuah party, also said that Hatnuah would leave the coalition in the event of annexation.[25] However, both parties support annexation of the settlement blocs after a permanent resolution of the conflict has been negotiated. Yisrael Beytenu supports redrawing the borders in order to keep as many Jews as possible within the Jewish state while transferring some Israeli Arab towns to the Palestinian state, with some Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be annexed to Israel.[2]

The left-wing opposition parties, Labor Party and Meretz, also oppose annexation,[24] as do the Arab parties, which insist on Israeli withdrawal to behind the Green Line.[2] Commanders for Israel's Security, an association of retired Israeli military officers, opposes West Bank annexation.[26]

International response

In June 2019, the Donald Trump administration indicated that it might not object to the Israeli government's possible annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Five senators from the opposition Democratic Party introduced a resolution condemning the idea.[27] The Trump administration had earlier recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2018 and recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel in March 2019.

The West Bank is internationally recognized as held under military occupation by Israel, though Israel disputes this and has created nearly 200 Israeli settlements there.[28] According to Yuval Shany, an Israeli annexation would likely be opposed internationally because the plan would violate multiple principles. Firstly, the principle of territorial integrity, that territories should not be acquired by war, as stated in the preamble to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, in several U.N. resolutions proclaiming the status of the West Bank as occupied Palestinian territory and in the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion on the Wall. Secondly, it would violate the vision of a two-state solution set forth in the Oslo Accords. Thirdly, the permanent and day-to-day control of a civilian population by a foreign power, denying it the right to naturalize or participate in politics, would perpetuate a democratic deficit.[3]

References

  1. ^ "East Jerusalem". OCHA. 6 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Ahren, Raphael. "From annexation to right of return: What the parties say about the Palestinians". Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Israel's New Plan to Annex the West Bank: What Happens Next?". lawfareblog.com. 6 May 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Netanyahu vows to annex "all the settlements" in West Bank". Los Angeles Times. 2019-09-16. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  5. ^ Is a New Israeli Bill Creeping Annexation of West Bank?, Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, 5 September 2017
  6. ^ Times of Israel, Plan to apply Israeli law in West Bank: Equal rights or ‘creeping annexation’?
  7. ^ "The Jordan Valley". B'Tselem. 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  8. ^ "Netanyahu announces post-election plan to annex Jordan Valley". Aljazeera. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Netanyahu isn't bluffing about his plans to annex the Jordan Valley – but will he succeed?". Independent. 2019-09-15. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  10. ^ "Data on Netanyahu's Jordan Valley Annexation Map". PeaceNow. 2019-09-11. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  11. ^ Daraghmeh, Mohammed; Heller, Aron (11 September 2019). "A look at the Jordan Valley Israeli PM has vowed to annex". AP News. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  12. ^ Magid, Jacob (12 September 2019). "PM's Jordan Valley map was error-strewn, but is his vow worth taking seriously?". Times of Israel. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Netanyahu Hints Trump Peace Plan Will Allow Israel to Annex Key West Bank Territory". The Intercept. 2019-09-11. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  14. ^ Jerusalem Post
  15. ^ NBC News
  16. ^ "'Devastating': Global condemnation after Netanyahu pledges to annex Jordan Valley, in occupied West Bank". Independent. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Netanyahu's Jordan Valley sovereignty vow widely panned by politicians as 'spin'". Times of Israel. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  18. ^ "UNOCHA occupied Palestinian territory - Profile". OCHA. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Area C". B'tselem. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  20. ^ "What are areas A, B, and C of the occupied West Bank?". Aljazeera. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  21. ^ Breiner, Josh (28 February 2019). "Hayamin Hehadash Calls to Annex Part of West Bank, Grant Citizenship to Palestinian Residents". Haaretz. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  22. ^ Glick, Caroline. "The Israeli solution". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  23. ^ "The Israeli Right's One-State Delusion". Israel Policy Forum. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  24. ^ a b Kraft, Dina (25 March 2019). "Haaretz Poll: 42% of Israelis Back West Bank Annexation, Including Two-state Supporters". Haaretz. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Lapid: Yesh Atid party will topple gov't that attempts annexation". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  26. ^ Hacohen, Gershon (28 May 2019). "Annexing Parts of the West Bank Area C: An Israeli National Interest". Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  27. ^ Kampeas, Ron (7 June 2019). "Senators Sanders, Warren push resolution decrying PM's West Bank annexation idea". Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  28. ^ "A Look at the West Bank Area Netanyahu Vowed to Annex". The New York Times. 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2019-09-12.

Further reading