While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is signing diplomatic agreements, which have supposedly taken the annexation plan off the table, the reality on the ground is the other way around. In fact, gradual and continuous de facto annexation is happening in the West Bank.
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held two meetings, in July and in August, dealing with what was termed a “Palestinian takeover of Area C.” The participants in the discussion complained that Palestinian construction in 61 percent of the West Bank was choking off the Israeli settlements and sabotaging the chance for them to expand further. This is the complete opposite of reality.
In negotiations toward the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three categories – A, B and C. Although the lands of Area C were defined as under Israeli civil and security control, this was a temporary definition intended to plan for a gradual new redeployment of the Israel Defense Forces in the area. A varied and veteran Palestinian population lives in this area, and the lands there are their land reserves.
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To Western countries – including the United States – and Arab countries that supported the agreement, as well as to the Palestinians and the Israelis, it was clear that Area C would be within the Palestinian state to be established alongside Israel. But Israel not only perpetuated its civil and security control there – it sought constantly, through cynical bureaucratic and military methods, to reduce the number of Palestinians living there, while preventing all necessary development and construction stemming from the needs of the protected population, and shirking its obligations as an occupying power.
In the meetings of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee from July 29 and August 18, MKs from Likud and Yamina and settlers whom they hosted, openly declared what the natural evolution of this process would be: The Palestinians must make do with Areas A and B; that is, no more than 39 percent of the West Bank, with non-contiguous strips of land. So said the man from the right-wing NGO Regavim, Meir Deutsch; so said Likud MK Nir Barkat, who also called for the settlement of two million Jews in the West Bank; so said Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, in his way: “Our demand and it is also derived from agreements, is a demand for all of Area C and in this battle for the Land of Israel between us and the Palestinian Authority as the representative of the other people, we are not from the United Nations. We take a side.”
Neither the coronavirus, nor Netanyahu’s indictments nor lip service paid to the Palestinians at the peace agreement festivities – none of these can hide it: The “vision” of Palestinian enclaves is the nightmare reality coming true before our very eyes. It has no connection to the two-state solution, which is supposed to be mentioned in the agreement with the UAE. This is the realization of the settlers’ vision, which in the end will officially turn Israel into an apartheid state.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.