The dangers of annexation - GulfToday

The dangers of annexation

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to annex illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley.

During the formation of Israel’s “national unity” coalition the sole issue under negotiation was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley. The coalition agreement says that from July 1, the government can submit for Knesset approval annexations proposed in Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” Since the coalition was confirmed by 73 of the 120 Knesset members, it is certain that they will vote in favour.

Colonisation, conquest and annexation of Palestine have been the three pillars of Zionist policy since the end of the 18th century and the means for Israel’s take-over of Palestine. Systematic colonisation began in the 1880s with first wave of the migration of 6,000 Eastern European Jews to Ottoman ruled Palestine and the establishment of dozens of agricultural colonies. The majority of these colonists left due to harsh conditions but were followed between 1904-1914 by 35000 Jews, most from Russia. These colonists were mostly single young people who stayed and built colonial institutions and the Haganah, an underground army to defend settler colonies from attacks by Palestinians who resisted the foreign intrusion.

Conquest was a multi-dimensional process involving not only the take-over of the land but also a campaign to persuade influential politicians and Jewish communities in the West to support the Zionist enterprise. The infamous letter written by Sir Arthur Balfour in November 1917 pledging Britain to facilitate the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine paved the way for the British mandate which provided impetus to both colonisation and militarisation of the Zionist effort. The adoption of the UN partition resolution in November 1947 — thanks to US intervention — testified to the success of the Zionist drive to court politicians and secure the support of the Jewish diaspora.

By the time the British mandate ended in May 1948, the Jews were one-third, Palestinians two-thirds, of the population of 1,900,000. The partition plan allocated 55 per cent of Palestine to the “Jewish state.” The Haganah and Zionist paramilitaries not only secured the “Jewish state” but also seized half the area designated for the “Arab state,” expelled 750,000 Palestinians, and annexed the conquered areas, including West Jerusalem. The Palestinians were left with East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, 22 per cent of their country. More than 530 Palestinian villages were bulldozed. About 150,000 Palestinians remained in Israel, living under martial law.

The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 (1948) which called for the repatriation and compensation of Palestinians, but this has never been implemented, enabling Israel to expand and retain territory acquired by force in violation of the UN

Charter and international law.

 In 1967, the Israelis fulfilled the task set by the Zionist founding fathers by completing the military conquest of Palestine. Another 250,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem were expelled to Jordan. Israel promptly expanded the borders of the Jerusalem municipality, annexed East Jerusalem, began colonisation, applied Israeli law to the colonies and established a military regime for Palestinians living under occupation. UN Security Council resolution 242 (1967) called for Israel’s withdrawal but the international community has never put serious pressure on or sanctioned Israel for refusing to comply.

However, the resolution and the all too obvious usurpation of Palestinian territory has remained an issue on the global agenda, making annexation problematic, particularly after the international adoption of the “two state solution,” involving the creation of a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. To prevent this from happening, Israel accelerated colonisation and annexation of its conquests. Today there are 630,000 Israeli colonists in 143 recognised colonies and 106 outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Annexation of these colonies along with the Jordan Valley could involve the expropriation of 60 per cent of the West Bank. The Jordan Valley alone comprises 30 per cent. Jordan has vehemently rejected Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley as this would impose on the unwilling kingdom a formal fait accompli border with Israel.

The Zionist/Israeli strategy has worked well. Israel has colonised, conquered, and annexed Palestinian land and property for more than 140 years. Israel has been compelled to pull out of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula twice, Gaza twice, and south Lebanon. US President Dwight Eisenhower forced Israel to withdraw from Sinai and Gaza in 1957 following the disastrous 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli attack on Egypt and the Israeli occupation of Egyptian and Palestinian territory. After Eisenhower, a World War II hero, no US president has had the courage to order Israel to pull out of occupied Arab territory.  Unless the US takes a tough stand on Israel’s illegal land grabs, Israel will ignore the protests of the Arab world, Europe and Asia.

After its re-conquest of Gaza and Sinai during the 1967 war and seizure of Syria’s Golan Heights, Israel planted colonies. Leaving Sinai was the price of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew both Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 in order to focus on colonisation and annexation of the West Bank. After a 22-year occupation, Hizbollah drove Israel out of south Lebanon on May 24, 2000. On the 25th, Gulf Today’s correspondent toured the Lebanese border with an Iraqi friend, travelling from Nakourah in the west to Marjayoun in the east.

While Israel has gotten away with annexation by stealth through colonisation, Netanyahu’s formal annexation could lead to serious negative consequences for Israel. Palestinians living in the West Bank could revolt against the Palestinian Authority if it did not resign in response to this existential challenge to Palestine. Without the Authority, Palestinians would, once again, become Israel’s responsibility as occupying power. They would demand a democratic “one state solution.” This would transform Jewish majority Israel into a bi-national state with a growing Palestinian majority as Palestinians are already a majority in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Jordan could revoke its peace treaty with Israel and Egypt could be compelled by popular pressure to put cold relations with Israel into a deep freeze. Israel’s main trading partner, the European Union and some member states could impose sanctions. US support for Israel would be divided and weakened as Congressional Democrats and 70 per cent of US Jews reject annexation and support a “two state solution.”

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