An Israeli Answer to Palestinian Terror: Annexation

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Israeli soldiers stand guard as policemen inspect the body of a Palestinian attacker who stabbed an Israeli woman at a bus station before being shot dead by Israeli security forces, near the Gush Etzion block of settlements south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, on November 22, 2015.
Israeli soldiers stand guard at the scene of a terror attack near the Gush Etzion block of settlements south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, on November 22, 2015.Credit: AFP

Terror is running rampant, and Civil Administration officials are preparing a gesture that will save us from its murderousness: transferring 10 square kilometers of land from Area C to the Palestinian Authority. Such a gesture is a winning formula, one that will yield impressive victories such as unending waves of terror that are answered by unending gestures.

Has the time not arrived to try a “gesture” that will cause Palestinians rather than us painful damage, so that they won’t want any more gestures? Annexing Area C is such a gesture. The idea, which is not new, has considerable public support. This area contains all the Jewish settlements and army bases in Judea and Samaria. It includes about 60 percent of the West Bank, and only 6 percent of the Arab population.

Annexation will remove the sticking point from the area in which Israel is attacked day and night: not giving equal rights to the Arabs under its control. The step would indeed require conferring upon them Israeli citizenship according to the law. We can manage this demographic challenge, even in the face of international opposition to an annexation.

Benjamin Netanyahu often says that the key difference between a statesman and a mere politician is the ability to exploit events as they happen. A host of opportunities are open these days, allowing him to shed the image of a relentless vacillator and prove himself a statesman who exploits the moment – an opportunity few other serving prime ministers have had.

World attention is focused on the terror gripping Europe and it being flooded with migrants and refugees. More and more statesmen and intellectuals are beginning to admit that they were mistaken in their understanding of the motivations of Islam and the forgiving that they showed toward it. For a short period, annexing Area C may indeed redirect global interest toward us – it is a given reflex – but one can assume that the world will get used to it, and over time will show understanding – perhaps even admiration – of Israel. One can be confident that ISIS and the rest of the murderous organizations will continue with their horrible acts. These will open additional eyes that until now had been wide shut in face of the evil.

There is another opportunity in that a weak, lame duck president, who is responsible in no small part for the failure regarding ISIS, rules the United States. It’s reasonable to assume that as his administration winds down he will avoid causing damage to Israel. Doing so would cause a conflict between the Jewish community and the Democratic candidate for president.

The most important opportunity of all is on the domestic front. We are failing to find a way to put an end to the terror attacks because we are searching in the realm of preventive tactics, while the answer needs to be strategic. We must force the enemy to see that the current round of terror will not end simply in restoring the calm with another Israeli gesture, but in a loss that cannot be recouped – a chunk of land. Only a devastating blow such as this will make him desist from future rounds. Suffering fatalities do not interest the enemy. On the contrary, he even sends children to be killed.

It is hard to believe that Netanyahu is always hesitant, always fearful of such an annexation. So let us suggest he begin with annexing Gush Etzion. Since the Gush fell in the War of Independence, there was a general yearning to return to it. The Levi Eshkol government regained it. Polls show that even now the Gush is part of the territory over which there is a national consensus that Israel must retain it permanently. Most of the terror attacks occur in the Gush? It’s a good reason to choose it as a turning point in Israel’s absorption policy. The connection between the Gush and the 1967 lines is geographically simple, natural and desired historically by most Jews.

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