Annexation and Its Ship of Fools
Israeli annexation of the West Bank, which the Netanyahu government has tentatively scheduled for implementation today, July 1st, has a cast of characters that can only be called a Ship of Fools. In a piece I published recently at Middle East Eye, I called it “a sham.” Everyone from Donald Trump, to Jared Kushner, responsible for the U.S. role in this tragi-comedy; to Bibi Netanyahu and Benny Gantz; to Mahmoud Abbas representing the PA, have played their respective roles in this farce to the hilt.
The Israeli coalition agreement which brought together the strange bedfellows of Benny Gantz and Bibi Netanyahu decreed that annexation would be addressed on July 1st. The Trump administration response to Israel and the world was: it’s your issue to deal with–we won’t interfere. The Palestinians original response to Trump’s Deal of the Century was to turn its back on both the Americans and the Israelis.
This has led Jared Kushner, in the run-up to July 1st to devise an absurd proposal which would “sweeten” the deal for Palestinians by exchanging Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. The Times of Israel headline said “US seeking Israeli gesture toward Palestinians to offset annexation.” Certainly, the Israelis will be happy to offer the Palestinians a gesture–the middle finger!
Here’s what Kushner was offering:
The Trump administration is reportedly pushing Israel to offer the Palestinians some sort of compensation in exchange for the unilateral annexation of some of the West Bank land they want for their future state.
Among the ideas is transferring an area to the Palestinians where they can build without limits, or redefining some Area C lands, where Israel maintains full control, as Area B, where Palestinians have civil control, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.
Israelis were naturally less than happy even with the Trump proposal and suggested taking even more land from Palestinians for their settlements. In return for giving up 30% of the territory of their future state, Palestinians would get “land in the Judaean Desert that Israel views as less integral..” That last phrase means that the land is worthless to Israel or almost anyone else except perhaps a Bedouin sheepherder. This is the equivalent of Peter Stuyvesant telling the Native American inhabitants of the island of Manhattan that instead of $24 worth of “trinkets,” he’d exchange their prime land for a piece of Nevada desert.
Gantz, who had made noises during the last election campaign that he too would support annexation, all of sudden developed cold feet. Or should I say lukewarm feet. He argued that annexation wasn’t the first issue on his agenda. He wanted to deal with the Covid19 crisis, which the government has essentially flubbed after reopening the economy and seeing a flood of new cases. Gantz tried to get himself off the hook by conditioning his own support on approval by both the Americans and the Jordanian king. Abdullah is enraged by the Israeli plan and has threatened to cut off relations if Israel proceeds. So Gantz has an out if he wants to use it.
Netanyahu has boxed himself into a corner: he only made the commitment to annex the Jordan Valley during an election campaign he was desperate not to lose. He knew such a proposal was like throwing red meat to his hyper-nationalist constituency. Now that he is in the driver seat as prime minister, he has to deliver. But if he does, he will earn the enmity of much of the world community. He will also immeasurably strengthen the BDS movement and its goal of bringing genuine political power and democratic rights to the Palestinian minority (among other demands).
The prime minister has little to worry about from the international community. Though the UN Secretary-General has warned against annexation, as has the EU, none of them are willing to put any teeth in their statements. The U.S. Congress, even progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders and the Squad, are threatening to cut U.S. aid to Israel if it proceeds with annexation. Bibi knows that the Israel Lobby is strong enough to head off any such proposal.
He has rather cleverly driven a wedge in the Arab world by cultivating new relations with Sunni states arrayed against Iran. They in turn have abandoned their former Palestinian allies in exchange for Israel’s offer of an anti-Iranian diplomatic and military alliance. This defangs yet another potent opponent of annexation.
The Palestinian Authority has not acquitted itself any better: after adamantly refusing to talk to either Israel or the U.S. for years, as July 1st came closer, Abbas apparently panicked, fearing that he might look like the odd man out if the U.S. and Israel move forward with their proposals. So he offered a counter-proposal: that the Palestinians would resume negotiating with the Israelis under the auspices of the Quartet! That’s right, they proposed dusting off one of the many useless entities on which people had pinned their hopes decades ago to bring peace. The Quartet was an unwieldy creation of Tony Blair and George Bush, that was meant to devise a way out of the Second Intifada. It eventually collapsed into irrelevance as scores of such initiatives have in the past. Now Abbas seeks to summon this unwilling apparition and bring it back from the dead to perform some miraculous resurrection.
10 thoughts on “Annexation and Its Ship of Fools – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Britain for centuries was the go-to destination for learning about counter insurgency and for holding onto colonial power. This reached it’s fulmination in Northern Ireland in the 70s through the 90s. This ignominious record has now been ceded to Israel, and much of the abuse handed out to Palestinians in the early years of the IDF was learnt at the hands of the previous colonial power in the middle east, Britain. A friend of mine was conscripted into the Israeli army in the 1980s and was horrified during basic training to hear a lecture from a doctor (who had presumably taken the hippocratic oath) telling the rooky soldiers the most effective way to break the arms of children who threw stones. I won’t go into the details but it took three soldiers acting in concert to achieve this outcome and the child would probably never be able to fully use the arm again. I am also aware of the IDF ordering a large quantity of boxwood from Britain because the dense wood made particularly effective truncheons for breaking skulls. Colonial powers have always acted in this way and Israel is no exception. The clock ran down on colonial apartheid a long time ago but Israel is still stuck in this time warp. When the west bank is annexed expect to see Israel move into full apartheid mode as the demography shifts to a disenfranchised palestinian majority. Israelis of all ethnicities will pay a very high price for this ahistorical foolishness.
sorry, culmination, not fulmination…
between the worsening corona issue and trump & fly deafening sillence about the issue i am pretty sure bibi has shifted gears. he knows fulll well that the next president (biden) will not be so easy on him (if he dares) and the outside chance that someone in congress will bring to the fore the yearly israel 4 billions xmas bonus ,, more than enough reasons to slowly deepsix the issue
further in the age of pilotless f35 and drones that carry 5 tons bunker busters does the jordan valley provide a real defense buffer,, against what army? iran? lebanon? get real, might have been back in 1970 when the merkavas where slow and far, but today,
btw even friedman returned with his tail lowered after his latest visit/instructions last week from papa jared.
aside from the settlers brains sun baked not a single voice came to their support and they sense it. perhaps they expected that israel would also have it’s 4th of july independence holiday,
on my list of hopes -= to see susan collins (the most insiduous underhanded trumpist) go down to defeat. at least graham, cruz, rubio et al are open about their master’s voice but she is worst than rand by far and today i read in dailybeast that her latest supporters are the kavanagh klux klan. the land of give me liberty or give me death deserves better much much better
LAHAV HARKOV JULY 1, 2020 17:48 – today writes in JPost that the UAE words (carrots) are worth more to bibi than ALL OF THE EU words (sticks)
so on one hand all jews say that all that arabs want is to destroy israel and yet after the billions upon billions that europe has plowed into israel are worth a “yawn” as per lahav
goes to show you the perfidy of bibi and his cohorts. they have as yet to get a dime on all their 60 odd years of asskissing the oil sheiks (except jared of course) and yet
i changed my mind , bibi to hell with all go go for it, let’s annex all the land and with a pen let’s wipe the entire palestinian race, goo lets see how much will the arabs give a hoot
can i have fox news address so i may send them this chap cv he’ll for sure get the donald reelected at least 3 more times , at least (too bad papa reiner passed before seeing this he’d be rolling off the floor)
While you mulling over your response to the comments I addressed to you earlier, please tell me whether the local Arabs learned anything from the British that enabled the Arabs to abuse Jews, that is when the Arabs still outnumbered the Jews of Palestine.
This isn’t the time or the place, but local Arabs did some pretty horrific things.
@ Kelvin: Oh please. The violence in Israel-Palestine was mutual. There were Arab/Palestinian riots. There were Jewish riots. Not to mention Jewish militia terrorism which targeted entire Palestinian communities. And if you look at the broad sweep of history the violence of Israelis against Palestinians has been much more severe than the reverse. For every Jew killed or expelled from a Jewish community, there have been many more Palestinians killed or expelled.
Unfortunately for you, your knowledge of these issues is skin deep, if that. And you’re spouting talking points and slogans instead of facts and historically accurate details.
I should welcome you as the resident hasbarist who’s joined us after your long flight from “Ben Gurion.” I wish you a pleasant stay…while you last.
Interesting that we are talking about the “Lost Cause” (see that excellent PBS documentary by Henry Louis Gates Jr. on The Reconstruction and America After the Civil War, still streaming) and I think of Israel’s own “Lost Cause”- of the Left and ultimately the Right. Lost in Israel is any sustainable way forward given the prevailing attitudes. There is just a march towards strife and more bloodshed. Certainly lost is a just peace deal in our lifetime (or mine). The Lost Cause of Israel as a light unto nations place of refuge and a place that Jewish people with a moral conscience can feel comfortable living within, proud to support.
After Losing Hope for Change, Top Left-wing Activists and Scholars Leave Israel Behind
nothing to do with this – anyway dead subject as of today Jordan+Egypt+Germany+France have come out against it – i guess that will give gantz the shivers and dooms the things as well some democrats are stirring the crap to make sure the 4b xmas bonus doesn’t wind up in the annexation and aipac is feeling the heat – just a sign
but my main point and i hope that it stays — in a new poll (which fivethirtyeight rates as “b” gives the dem cand in maine a 46/42 lead over the trumpist collins – and this without getting extra cash) may it last till nov 5
Richard- I don’t tweet, but as to your tweet on Beinart’s op in the NYT I would say more generously that the NYT is perhaps being a little less fearful by publishing this, though they have for sure published criticism of Israel and been have critical. . Or I am defending a NYT that has many flaws especially lately including this one? I have felt that the paper is between a rock and a hard place regarding it’s readership, accused of being pro and anti at the same time. It’s an economic decision as well I bet, regrettably. That said, I read comments and overwhelmingly on this one from what I read it seems, the most “liked” are those you would call “hasbarist” spewing the same old same old unevolved one sided anti-drab/Palestinian propaganda views. The only “solution” is to save one’s own energy and watch this unfold as this situation careens headlong to where it’s been going for a long time.Trump pushes this along more. In 2016 many “pro-Israel” (so-called) voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton because they thought he would be better for Israel. (But don’t mention dual loyalty.)
Back home here is where my worries have come. Israel is hopeless. I hope we are not. Thanks for your activism.