Opinion

Facing Blowback From Annexation

Soldiers patrolling in Hebron.
Olivier Fitoussi

In the discussions last week about annexing the Jordan Valley, Benjamin Netanyahu told security officials the following incredible thing: “My decision, as the statesman, is to annex the valley. Your job is to deal with the consequences, if there are any.”

In one fell swoop, with one sentence, Netanyahu refuted the oldest and most effective lie regarding the occupation – that it’s necessary for security. Security, it seems, is only a consideration when one wants to send soldiers to die for the status quo or for a politician’s survival. But when you want to annex, you can throw the status quo out the window.

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Netanyahu’s remark sent me back to the territories, to the days when I was in uniform and to one sound that I apparently will never manage to forget. My squad and I were supposed to enter a Palestinian home and take a position inside. We were walking slowly through the night, trying to remain unseen, when suddenly a sound emerged from the house, the cry of someone injured, something that there’s no way to imitate or explain, a sound you don’t forget.

Our officer took a weapon, broke the window and shined a flashlight inside. An old woman was lying there, who couldn’t move, and her family was looking at her, afraid to go into the room to help her. It was a normal Palestinian family. We didn’t know anything about them, we just wanted to stake a comfortable position in their home. We could do this because they were Palestinians, and Palestinian homes may be entered for any reason, no matter how weak. In the name of security. One sentence uttered by the prime minister reminded me of that sound.

For a decade now, we have been dealing with the diplomatic consequences of the Netanyahu regime. We dealt with them when we were soldiers and we risked our lives so that Netanyahu could have enough security that would allow him to keep Israel stuck in place. We dealt with them as civilians as well, when people were being stabbed in the street and were afraid to leave their homes, and when his effort to manage the conflict once again led to an unnecessary flare-up in Gaza, and also when rockets were landing on half the country.

“Your job is to deal with the consequences.”

That’s all we need to know about what this man thinks of the security of Israelis and the role of the security forces. This is a sacred approach that determines who will be the State of Israel’s widows and orphans.

We will certainly have to deal with the consequences of Donald Trump’s apartheid plan. The army has already begun marathon meetings with Palestinian officials, trying to explain to them that “it’s hard to know whether the American plan will actually come to fruition.” The army fears mass protests and that the security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority will be undermined. It has started to boost its forces in the Jordan Valley.

I meet hundreds of Israelis a year, and I hear the same thing at almost every encounter: The occupation is a security need and a necessary evil. In the name of security we decide which Palestinians will be able to earn a living which won’t. In the name of security we tell the Palestinians which streets they can walk on in Hebron and which are for Jews only. In the name of security we go into Palestinian homes every night and watch children wet their pants in fear, as we conduct another routine mission to “show our presence.” In the name of security an old woman can lay an hour on the floor at night, without any member of her family daring to go in to help her.

But now the security lie has been refuted. There’s no more need for it. After all, even on the right no one believes the Trump peace plan will bring an end to the conflict. Even they know that after annexation they will continue to send soldiers to die on the streets of Palestinian cities. This plan will merely make permanent the state of war which until now has been described as temporary, and grant American legitimacy to our own brand of apartheid. A Mediterranean South Africa with Uncle Sam’s blessing. What’s a few dead people compared to this “historic opportunity?” They are just victims of the annexation.