Not one, not two, but what?


Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday told a parliamentary committee that the US had warned that annexing the West Bank would spark an “immediate crisis” with the US administration.

The Israeli minister made his statements before leaving for the US for talks with high US administration officials and to hold “other meetings”, in apparent response to the push by those in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to declare Israeli sovereignty over all or part of the occupied Palestinian territory.

“We have received a very clear, direct message from the United States stating that the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] would provoke an immediate crisis with the new administration,” Lieberman told the Knesset committee.

Calls for annexation are not new, but the latest came on Sunday from a lawmaker from Netanyahu’s Likud Party who said in a televised interview that “the two-state solution is dead”.

While advocating a single state, he also said that Palestinians in the West Bank should not be allowed to vote in Israeli parliamentary elections, putting in words the clear intent to practise apartheid.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the religious nationalist Jewish Home Party, made similar calls to annex most of the West Bank in the hope that the Trump presidency will support such move.

Lieberman’s worry about annexation is not its illegality, but the high economic and financial cost involved in such ill-conceived, reckless, idea.

About 2.6 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, and applying the Israeli law there, Lieberman warned, would entail the expenditure of no less than $5.4 billion on various social services.

If the one-state solution is not viable politically or economically, as feared by Lieberman, then the two-state solution is the only possible, and fair, solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

There is always the fear that Israel would opt for a de facto annexation of the West Bank, to escape the censure of the international community, if the latter would bother to half-heartedly do that, and avoid the heavy economic and financial cost of full annexation.

This has been the constant Israeli ploy, more surreptitious before, brazenly open now, but this game has to end.

Occupation cannot go on forever. It is against human nature. Even most extremist Israelis can understand that.


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