“We were afraid of the Shin Bet security service,” MK Ahmad Tibi once said, “until we met its former heads as MKs.” It would be interesting to know how much fear is being generated now by our former chiefs of general staff, two of whom demonstrated this week how to abandon their soldiers and surrender without a fight.
They agreed to castrate the Knesset, circumvent the High Court of Justice, allow a man accused of bribery to appoint judges, and to annex the territories. They are this summer’s official whitewashers, using the ballots of left-leaning voters.
Kahol Lavan’s agreement to go to new elections if the High Court disqualifies Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government is an agreement to destroy the power of the Supreme Court. That’s what it means. It serves Netanyahu’s personal interests and will prevent in advance any judicial oversight over acts of annexation. Netanyahu has been in power for a decade and has never tried to annex the territories. Two things have changed recently: U.S. President Donald Trump, who has given him legitimacy from the outside, and Kahol Lavan, which agreed to launder the move for him domestically. Nice work.
The European Union has warned of the dire consequences of annexation. There’s no point in getting excited. There will be no consequences. What will the EU do, drink tea angrily? The history of the occupation has known no end of weak European condemnations, embarrassing slaps on the wrist. Netanyahu is betting, and with good reason, that that’s what will happen this time as well.
To begin to understand how reality here is going to look, it’s worth talking about how it looks now. Not for nothing have 56 former ministers and MKs and dozens of senior security officers announced their opposition to annexation. The Israeli regime in the territories is discriminatory. The Palestinians don’t get to vote for those lying to them in election campaigns. It’s permitted to torture them, jail their children, arrest them without trial and extend their detention for years. It’s permitted to steal their land and raid their homes in the middle of the night, without a warrant or even a suspicion, as a routine activity in the field. Most of these things also take place in Area A, which is under the security control of the Palestinian Authority.
We’ve told ourselves that there’s no choice, that the occupation is a temporary solution until the Palestinians become a partner (and there seems to be no doubt that life under tyranny will promote this evolution). But this story is a lie. No one builds settlements on areas he plans to give up. Israel has invested money and blood in the settlements and their defense because it wants to hold the territory. The occupation is not a temporary solution. It’s a dictatorship we’ve created to steal Palestinian land.
After 53 years of this, even Netanyahu has decided to stop lying, perhaps for the first time in his life. Because that’s the declaration that’s at the foundation of annexation: This whole complex military regime, the system of permits that control Palestinian lives, the cover-up and the looking away and the blood that’s been spilled – we’ve done all this to seize the land. We were just waiting for the right moment.
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This is also the future that we’re planning for the Palestinians: life in small Bantustans, without rights, with segregation anchored in Israeli law. Eternal shame. The covert and embarrassed apartheid is a thing of the past. We are in the era of official, arrogant apartheid.
This what Israeli democracy’s death throes look like: A corrupt leader who dragged Israel into three election campaigns and lost them, announces that Israel is turning into an apartheid state, with the support of a quartet of con men who stole the votes of their supporters. Smile, this is a historic moment, and it belongs to all of us. And if anyone thinks it will pass quietly, they’d better think again.