Opinion

That’s Right, Just Annex the West Bank

Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria, March 11, 2019.
Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told The New York Times: “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” Haaretz raised a hue and a cry.

About two months ago, when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, politicians, “experts” on international law and columnists raised the hue even higher. Some expected the sky to fall, but even disappointed warrior Zvi Bar’el noted in Haaretz that this did not happen and the threat to Israel’s international status proved unfounded.

Fact: Not one country called on the UN Security Council to condemn Trump. The European countries are in a deep sleep and the Arab countries, including the “important ones,” turned their backs on the Palestinians.

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On Thursday, energetic protests against the government and the Mossad were added to this weeping and wailing. The indictment: Israel is waging an antidemocratic war against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Even the Bundestag, which passed a law that a boycott of Israel constitutes anti-Semitism, was roundly criticized, in Israel of all places.

These tactics explain well how the left here has reached a dead end. A radical ideological group, which receives high-profile media attention, shows admiration for and even self-deprecation to the opponents of Zionism and the Jewish state. And sometimes it identifies with the enemy. (Some of the leading columnists in this newspaper define this as “the Palestinians’ legitimate resistance to the ‘occupation.’”)

In contrast, this group treats the supporters of the state with scorn and contempt. This group, whose doctrine the Meretz and Labor parties have adopted (and thus reached the point of near-extinction), has for years built on the idea that “the world” – the United States, the European Union, nongovernmental organizations (and just plain Israel haters of various kinds) – would force its agenda on Israel; that is, full withdrawal and even the division of Jerusalem.

And woe betide us: A U.S. president was elected who, to use the Hebrew expression, “fell on his head,” and Europe is tired and busy with its own troubles. Germany dared pass a law against the boycott, and even in the universities, the spearheads of anti-Israeli propaganda (some members of this cult even serve as its philosophers and key activists), anti-Israel action has moderated.

To prove that the world’s support for Israel is a bizarre development, Bar’el proposes shock treatment: the annexation of Judea and Samaria. When it becomes clear, as it must, that this is an apartheid state, the supporters of annexation will come to their senses. His hatred of the settlers is so great that he – like those who share his opinion – can’t imagine that Area C can be annexed and that the Arabs can be given – as the settler leaders have always said – full rights, from the right to vote and stand for election, to the social rights accorded all Israeli citizens.

These days the parties right of Likud are seeking the precise way to persuade voters to support them rather than Benjamin Netanyahu the flip-flopper. In his article’s headline, Bar’el provided the redeeming slogan: “There are no more excuses left. Just annex the West Bank.” If these parties make this a condition for joining the governing coalition – and stick to it – there’s a good chance Netanyahu will finally extend Israeli law and sovereignty to Area C. After the statements by Trump and Friedman, the man for whom the excuses have really run out is Netanyahu.

An annexation carried out with unambiguous legislation equalizing Arabs’ civil status to that of the Jews will prove once and for all that the inflammatory slogan “annexation is apartheid” is fundamentally a lie.