Editorial |

Don’t Annex Ma’aleh Adumim

Would people support annexation if they knew it could lead to severe sanctions against Israel? Or to an intifada?

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An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.Credit: AP

A new threat is thickening like a black cloud. Its first signs appeared when the crazy idea of annexing the West Bank, under the protective umbrella of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, was heard from people on the far right like Education Minister Naftali Bennett and his Habayit Hayehudi colleague, MK Bezalel Smotrich.

This continued with articles and interviews in which even people in the center and on the left began to seriously consider the advantages of annexation. Some even based their claims on the fulfillment of the divine promise, others on the need to improve the Palestinians’ lives.

Now the threat has reached the Knesset. This week the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee discussed the annexation of the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, a West Bank settlement east of Jerusalem, and Bennett promised to file a bill by the end of the month that would formalize the city’s annexation.

An interesting and original reason was provided in the bill's explanatory notes: “There is a broad consensus in Israel and worldwide regarding the extension of Israeli sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim,” and that applying sovereignty “will not substantially change Israel’s demographic balance.”

All of a sudden “the world consensus” becomes the defensive wall of this madness. The same international community that last week was hit by the prime minister’s diatribe because it dared reiterate the notion that the settlements were illegal is the one the government relies on while presenting a blatant lie.

The international community doesn’t consent to the annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim or any other part of the West Bank or East Jerusalem. In its opinion, any annexation or land swap must take place as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, not before.

One could reply in the same coin to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the international community has agreed to the two-state solution, but it states that the two countries’ borders will be decided in negotiations, not through unilateral steps such as settlements or annexation.

Opinion polls showing 40-percent support for the annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim can only arouse a snicker, since the surveys don’t mention the threat involved. Would the respondents support annexation if it were explained to them that it could lead to severe sanctions against Israel, not only against the settlements? Would they stick to their opinion if a new intifada erupted?

The proposal to annex Ma’aleh Adumim could turn out to be a proposal too far. It obligates all people concerned about Israel’s fate, and the opposition in particular, to stand fast against it, explain its threats and mobilize the public and if necessary mobilize the international community too. This proposal must be removed from the agenda.

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