Annexing Israel

It is not Israel that is being asked to annex the settlements. It is the settlements and the settlers who must agree to Israel being annexed to them.

You could, of course, be horrified at the bill to annex the West Bank settlements to the State of Israel, sponsored by MK Miri Regev (Likud ). But it's not mandatory. You could also welcome the miracle - the finger of God Himself - that caused Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to come to his senses at the very last moment and oppose it (by abstaining only ), but that too is superfluous. Even the chilling thought of what would have happened had the bill been passed, what kind of world war it would have brought upon Israel, is of no consequence now.

The reason is that the draft law is fundamentally flawed. It is not Israel that is being asked to annex the settlements. It is the settlements and the settlers who must agree to Israel being annexed to them. Meanwhile, they are making it very clear that they have no reason to burden themselves with the yoke of the state. Why should they agree to be subject to the laws of the state when they can shape its image from the heart of the Israeli Diaspora in the territories?

It is the settlers who decide when rulings by the High Court of Justice apply to them and when the Knesset passes laws to bypass the High Court. They were behind the draconian law prohibiting the boycott of Israeli products was passed, they created new land ownership laws in the territories. They can choose the legal system convenient to them in each circumstance: military orders, Ottoman law, Jordanian law or, if necessary, Israeli law.

It is they who decide whether or not to permit the Israel Police to operate among them. They have a private army that decided for itself who the enemy is. It is they who decide when Israel Defense Forces commanders should be obeyed and when they should not, and who determine which rabbi represents God's will at any given time.

Even Israeli foreign policy is decided by the settlers, whose permanent residence in the territories blocks any serious intention of reaching a peace agreement and who have shifted the subject of the dispute from the territories to the settlements. This shift in the public discourse was also applied to the concept of loyalty to the state: Anyone who seeks to uproot settlements is striking at the heart of the state, crushing the cultural foundations established in the Hebrew Bible and siding with Israel's enemies.

Two decades ago the settlers still held a kind of conditional reverence for the state. They believed that if they could persuade the Israeli public that a threat to the settlers was a threat to the state, that Kfar Sava and Ariel were synonymous, the state would accept them as an integral part of it. Settler youth with national flags gathered at major road intersections at the time carrying Israeli flags, and politely but insistently handed out blue-and-white "Yesha [Judea, Samaria and Gaza] is here" bumper stickers. That was the naive period - yes, even the settlers had one - before they realized it was possible to steal a state instead of joining it.

That era has passed. First the settlers annexed the slogan "appropriate Zionist response" to means that for every terror attack and every person killed in one, a new settlement or neighborhood should be built. Not in the State of Israel, since Israel is already a foreign, Tel Avivan state that does not know what genuine Zionism is. The "Zionist response" must be provided in the only Zionist state, the state of the settlers. The Diaspora state with the authority to grant the title of "the national camp," or to deny it to anyone who objects to its caprices. It is the world's only diaspora that has appropriated to itself the unchallenged authority to brand its legislators and cabinet members, its intellectuals and political parties, as heroes or traitors depending on their behavior toward it.

It is doubtful that Regev understood that in proposing to annex the settlements to the junior, weak and powerless state she was jeopardizing her political standing. With a single law she sought to strip the settlers of their power, to grab the strings with which they manipulate their Israeli puppet and to turn them into ordinary citizens like the residents of Mitzpeh Ramon or Hadera. Her bill was blocked, but now we can redraft it to ask the settlers to annex Israel.

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