Jul 23,2020 – JORDAN TIMES – Shehab Al Makahleh
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to justify the postponement of the planned annexation process of the Occupied West Bank and the Western part of Jordan Valley by saying that Israel is still discussing this matter with the Americans. This statement implies that the terms of annexation or taking over the land of the Palestinians have not yet matured. It is clear until now that the course of events did not move in the way that Netanyahu planned as he was seeking to announce the annexation on July 1 to turn the date into a historic day for himself and for his party.
However, the American internal political developments, the coming presidential elections campaigns, the sharp division over the annexation process, fears of repercussions if annexation becomes effective and the reaction of the Palestinian and Jordanian people have set the scene. These factors complicated the whole landscape and the scenarios that Netanyahu was drawing up. Even with the postponement of the process, Netanyahu was keen to appear as a decisive decision-maker; therefore, he rejected the position of his rival partner, Benny Gantz, that July 1 “is not a sacred date”.
The Israeli government tactically postponed its decision to annex areas in the West Bank and Jordan Valley as a result of the global pandemonium. However, this temporary Israeli retreat is described by some as a political maneuvering; many attributed this postponement to the pressure exercised on Israel to postpone the move as the American administration noticed that the takeover plan will affect the peace agreement between Israel and other Arab states which will negatively impact the normalisation process between some Arab states and Israel at a time preparation is ongoing for launching a war against Iran and its allies this year.
Israeli far right calls for the annexation of the West Bank or at least Area C, which constitutes 60 per cent of the West Bank. This scenario has gone with the wind temporarily and tactically for Israeli calculations. Experts in Israeli politics do believe that Tel Aviv’s position is part of ideological aspirations and tactics whose goals relate to gravitational tensions aimed at preventing the foundation of a Palestinian political entity or state. An article in an Israeli daily newspaper revealed that Netanyahu and Gantz discerned that the annexation was a plot against the two-state solution.
There is doubt that Netanyahu is interested in this plot, but he, like Gantz, certainly understands that annexation will pave a new way to transform Israel into a binational state. In spite of postponement, the options currently presented are in fact limited between a partial annexation that includes some settlements and large settlement blocs in the West Bank within the framework of land exchange between Palestinians and Israelis.
At present, Netanyahu is now between the hammer and the anvil: His promises to his constituents and the right-wing to abide by the takeover process on one hand and absence of an American green light and the possibility of deteriorating matters on the Palestinian front on the other. So far, the 30 per cent annexation plan does not seem to be verified. At least this is what Israeli political and media reports disclose.
This is not only due to developments at the American and Israeli political arenas, but thanks mainly to the Jordanian-Palestinian official stance and West Bankers and East Bankers’ support for their leaderships. However, it is worth emphasising that the European position stemmed from fears of the reaction of Palestinian and Jordanian people. Both Netanyahu and Gantz know for sure that they cannot annex the occupied territories without the risk of a Palestinian revolution and a security and military tectonic tremor that irks the stable Israel.
For many American political experts, the postponement is a matter to play with time as time heals wounds. Therefore, postponement does not mean cancellation because the takeover of the West Bank is a Zionist goal in the first place on the long run. The annexation is a goal in itself, regardless of the circumstances because it is the culmination of the settlement approach. This plot sounds frozen for the time being for a number of reasons. The first of which is an American that Washington has suspended the Israeli unilateral move and that the majority of Israelis are not interested in this plan. Others do believe that Trump administration, mainly his special adviser Jared Kushner, expressed reservations to unilaterally annex the West Bank and Jordan Valley, believing that this would have grave consequences.
Anyhow, the final word is for the Palestinian people. If the entire world backed the annexation, the repudiation of the Palestinian people would change these equations, whether regional or international because what encourages the Israeli leaders to rush towards taking over the Palestinian lands is their assessment of the whole regional and international political transformations at all levels that the annexation process would pass without exorbitant prices to pay or without any negative ramifications on Israel.