Stop Israel's Coming Annexation

Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights opens the door to further annexation – over the other territories captured in 1967, mainly the West Bank

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up the Golan Heights proclamation outside the West Wing after a meeting in the the White House March 25, 2019.
Jacquelyn Martin,AP

The presidential proclamation that U.S. President Donald Trump signed on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights could entail a dangerous consequence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can glory in his enormous achievement, and Kahol Lavan’s leaders can stand behind him as the last of the cheap patriots, but one basic fact hasn’t changed: The territory is occupied, and international law doesn’t recognize unilateral annexation.

Yet the danger lurking in the American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan is not tied only to this territory. Trump’s signature opens the door to further annexation and unilateral recognition of Israeli sovereignty – over the other territories captured in 1967, mainly the West Bank.

With all due respect to Trump, Israel is the one that is sliding down a slippery slope, in which it is dismantling with its own hands the two-state solution and replacing it with a one-state solution. Now it is even liable to accelerate this dangerous process. The Israeli right, which champions annexation, will draw inspiration from Trump’s proclamation, and will seek to adopt a similar policy regarding the West Bank.

As the right is wont to do, it will use salami tactics. First it will seek annexation of the West Bank’s Area C, which contains all the settlements as well as a relatively small number of Palestinian residents. Later, it will seek to control Areas A and B and give them autonomy. The upshot: official apartheid.

One report cites a senior Israeli official who said on Tuesday that American recognition of sovereignty over the Golan sets down a principle by which one may keep territory conquered in a defensive war, reinforcing the fear that this is the direction the right-wing government will seek if Netanyahu wins the elections. Members of Hayamin Hehadash, as well as the Kahanist version of Habayit Hayehudi, will pressure Netanyahu to use Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan as a basis for future lobbying of the White House, a project whose goal is recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Area C as well.

It’s perfectly clear that the damage facing Israel from an annexation of Area C will be dozens of times worse than the imagined benefit coming from American recognition of its annexation of the Golan. This is the central problem with Trump’s gesture. It makes yet another contribution to the right wing’s hallucinations about annexing the territories, to the crushing of the Palestinians’ national aspirations and to the surrender of a diplomatic track that could lead to political agreements.

Netanyahu’s Israel, strengthened by Trump’s bear hug and the biblical hallucinations of the ultra-nationalist right, is quickly sliding into the reality of a binational state. One can only hope that this reckless descent will be halted on April 9.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.