Annexing Settlements Like Thieves in the Night

In bid to push annexation, Israeli government tries to give Trump crash course in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Emil Salman

It is doubtful whether U.S. President Donald Trump knows exactly where Ma’aleh Adumim is, or whether the term E-1 – the area that was annexed to the Ma’aleh Adumim municipality – brings back childhood memories. But this won’t last for long. It seems the Israeli government has decided to give Trump a crash course in understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and, mainly, to give him a loyalty test without any preparation.

Only two days after Trump’s swearing-in, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to discuss Sunday the annexation of the West Bank settlement to the State of Israel, in order to quickly prepare a draft of the bill to be presented to the Knesset for approval. The conventional wisdom is that from the moment Trump was elected president, Israel received a stamp of approval to carry out any scheme it could think of in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

>> Citing pressure from Trump, Netanyahu tries to torpedo legislation to annex West Bank settlement <<


Based on this logic, there is actually no need to put Trump to the test, and no need to rush as if this were a window of opportunity that might close at any second. But as everyone knows, gangs of thieves are never confident that the policeman they bribed will not turn against them at the last minute. Hence the urgency to grab Ma’aleh Adumim and annex it to Israel.

The “Trump Test” is not the only reason for this grab. A bitter competition is raging in Israel for the “nationalism” trophy, territorial patriotism and shaping the nature of the far right. But the future and interests of Israel serve only as a side issue in this competition. The main aim is to rake in the greatest political profit from the act of annexation itself. The rules of the game compel those who also oppose the annexation – or, at the very least, have doubts about the wisdom of such a move – to express support for it so that they won’t find themselves outside the consensus or be branded a traitor.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends his “associates” to tell the bill’s sponsors of his displeasure with it, instead of forcefully banging on the table himself. His loyal follower, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, told Army Radio that he opposes the bill because “we are not losing control and not losing restraint” like another right-wing party, Habayit Hayehudi. There are also those quietly praying – such as Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Interior Minister Arye Dery – and seemingly hoping that the hand of God will stop this idiocy at the last moment, instead of standing firm and building a wall against being dragged into the abyss. It is pointless mentioning the opposition at this stage, since the dead cannot speak.

If there is a sane right wing in the government, here is its opportunity to remove this crazy proposal from the agenda. The annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim is the first step on the road to the annexation of other settlements like Gush Etzion, Kiryat Arba and Ariel – and, ultimately, the entire West Bank. In such a case, Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and officially become an apartheid one.