Opinion

First They’ll Take Area C, Then They’ll Take the West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot, January 2019.
Ariel Hermoni / Ministry of Defense

What does it mean to roll one’s eyes? Well, in Hebrew it means to try to look innocent, to play dumb. Is it an acquired talent or an inborn trait?

On one thing we can all agree: The eye-roll has caught on and become policy. It’s the foundation on which the settlers have built their expansionist theory, which is based on building illegal outposts and creating a warped separation between systematic land grabs known as “settlements” and the "land grabs by chance" known as “outposts.”

But this is all passé now. Now the time has come for the festival of the new glaring lie, the pinnacle of the settlement movement’s achievements: annexing Area C of the West Bank.

What’s so bad about an annexation that would merely put most of the “legal” settlements and “consensus” blocs under Israeli sovereignty? Nobody wonders anymore about which law lets the settlements enjoy such status.

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Area C is home to some 80,000 Palestinians, a small number easy for the sensitive Jewish Israeli digestive system. What could be more legal than an annexation supported by most of Donald Trump’s senior advisers, the owners of Trump Heights, which overlooks Israel from the Golan mountaintops?

These Palestinians could even be granted limited citizenship so that we wouldn’t, perish the thought, be accused of apartheid. But to borrow from that famous song, “First we take Area C, then we take the West Bank.”

This is exactly where the big deception is, going back to the days of the deceit in the construction of the settlement Kiryat Arba near Hebron, and the fraud that surrounded the establishment of Hebron’s Avraham Avinu neighborhood, which began with an innocent request to clean the Avraham Avinu synagogue. In the same way the infamous settlements Migron, Amona and all the other malignancies were built.

This is all just the beginning of the redemption that seeks to legitimize the annexation of Area C, and the aspirations of the new transportation minister, Bezalel Smotrich, to annex all of Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. Back in 2006, Hanan Porat and Uri Elitzur presented their grandiose plan “Peace in the Land,” which spoke of annexing 60 percent of the West Bank including all the areas of Jewish settlement and all territories needed to establish defensible borders (the Jordan Valley, western Samaria and Binyamin, Gush Etzion and the Southern Hebron Hills).

According to this plan, Israel would also have annexed some 300,000 Palestinians, residents of the smaller villages in the more sparsely populated areas of the West Bank. At the end of the process they would have become Israeli citizens.

When would the end of the process have been, and under what terms would they have received citizenship? Would they have been required to declare their loyalty to the state or at least recognize it as a Jewish state? After all, there can be no citizenship without loyalty. The people who drew up the plan didn’t comment on this issue, and they have since died.

Six years later Naftali Bennett’s “Plan for Calm” came along, which was aimed at neutralizing the apartheid sword by granting citizenship. Bennett doesn’t mention that this is part of a gradual plan, but it’s no secret that it is.

The diplomat Ran Yishai wrote this month on the website Sovereignty that the applying of only partial sovereignty could place a great stranglehold on settlement because any settlements that weren’t developed wouldn’t thrive. As he put it: Transportation difficulties and an aging population, as a result of young couples having difficulty purchasing new homes – which wouldn’t exist – would be like a noose around the neck of those settlements, to which access has been difficult from the start.

Yehudit Katsover told a Sovereignty conference a week and a half ago that applying “sovereignty would strengthen the Jewish majority with the construction of settlements and absorption of immigrants from around the world.”

Katsover added that “the Arabs of Judea and Samaria would receive residency status under Israeli sovereignty and could later request citizenship in accordance with the terms of loyalty.” What could be more generous than that? Yes, let’s give the eye-rollers Area C, and they’ll finish the job.