Israel Econ. Minister’s West Bank annexation plan a wake up call for the West

By John V. Whitbeck (Ma’an News Agency)

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of the Economy and leader of the Jewish Home Party, a major component of the current Israeli government, is widely seen as the politician on the rise in Israel and a potential successor to Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister after the next Israeli elections.

On Nov. 6, he published a highly significant opinion article, entitled “For Israel, two-state is no solution,” in the International New York Times.

In this article, Mr. Bennett argues that “for its security, Israel cannot withdraw from more territory and cannot allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank” and then proceeds to propose his own “four-step plan” for peace.

His “peace plan” notably includes Israel’s unilateral annexation of Area C, approximately 61 percent of the West Bank, so as to “reduce the scope of the territory in dispute, making it easier to reach a long-term agreement in the future.”

In his vision of peace, any “Palestinian entity” on residual ink spots of Areas A and B of the West Bank “will be short of a state. It will not control its own borders and will not be allowed to have an army.” As for Gaza, “it cannot be a party to any agreement.”

Bennett concludes: “I am aware that the world will not immediately accept this proposal. It seems to go against everything Israel, the Palestinians and the international community have worked toward over the last 20 years.”

“But I will work to make this plan government policy because there is a new reality in the Middle East, which has brought an end to the viability of the Oslo peace process.”

One may hope that Bennett’s blast of honesty will blow away any residual illusions within those Western governments which have for decades been blocking the realization of a Palestinian state on the ground by arguing that a Palestinian state can only exist, even on a purely legal level, as a result of negotiations with Israel — i.e., after almost half a century of belligerent occupation, with the prior consent of the occupying power.

One may also hope that Bennett’s honesty will help Western governments to recognize the urgent necessity to save the two-state solution by one or, ideally, both of the only two conceivable courses of action to do so — (1) the United States not vetoing an application by the State of Palestine for full member state status at the United Nations and, thereby, letting it happen and (2) building on the virtuous example of Sweden, a tsunami of diplomatic recognitions of the State of Palestine by the 19 European Union states which have not yet done so, followed by a clear and coherent program for intensifying EU sanctions until Israel complies with international law and relevant UN resolutions by withdrawing fully from the occupied State of Palestine.

In a world that still professes formal respect for international law and the UN Charter, the occupation of a UN member state by a neighboring state cannot be permitted to endure indefinitely, and Europe is Israel’s principal trading partner and cultural homeland, with Israel enjoying special privileges that give it many of the advantages of virtual EU membership.

Either course of action would represent a wholesome and constructive reality check to Israeli society and render the end of the occupation a mere question of when rather than of whether.

It appears that the legislatures of France and Spain are on track to vote on recognizing the State of Palestine prior to year-end, although, as in the case of the overwhelming favorable vote in the British House of Commons and the unanimous favorable vote in the Irish Senate, neither vote would be binding on their respective governments.

If the US government were to permit the State of Palestine to become a UN member state, there is good reason to believe that a wave of diplomatic recognitions by EU states, which have traditionally deferred to the United States on all matters relating to Israel, Palestine, and the so-called “peace process,” would rapidly follow.

There is also some reason for hope that the Republican Party’s new total control of the U.S. Congress, which rules out any domestic achievement for President Obama in his final two years in office, will focus the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s attention on leaving a legacy of historic foreign policy achievements which remain within his discretion and power to achieve.

If, however, neither of these two courses of action has eventuated by mid-2015, the Palestinian people and leadership, as well as all decent people who truly seek peace with some measure of justice in Israel-Palestine, should consign the “two-state solution” and the current “two-state legality” to the trash heap of history, accept the current “one-state reality” and embark upon a principled, long-term, anti-apartheid struggle for equal rights and human dignity in a unitary state for all who live in former Mandate Palestine.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect Ma’an News Agency’s editorial policy.

Mirrored from Ma’an News Agency

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Aljazeera World Documentary: “Area C – Full Documentary”

8 Responses

  1. So, Bennett-logic is to gobble up 60% of the West Bank, with the virtuous aim of “reducing the scope of the territory in dispute, making it easier to reach a long-term agreement in the future”.

    That is, of course, exactly the complaint that the Palestinians make i.e. the USA keeps demanding that they negotiate with Israel over how to divide up a pizza, and all the while Israel keeps helping itself to slice after slice after slice….

    A wakeup call indeed, since Bennett is actually insisting that It Is A Good Thing that Israel engorges itself.

  2. One may also hope that Bennett’s honesty will help Western governments to recognize the urgent necessity to save the two-state solution…

    I doubt Western governments will pay much attention to Bennett. His security argument is simply a specious justification for clinging on to what Israel has stolen and doesn’t want to give back. Governments are only guided by considerations of international law and the UN Charter when it suits them, rarely if ever as a controlling principle. It is the people, particularly Europeans acting on their elected representatives, who will determine the way this all works out. Israel might have maintained an active central role in forging the future of the area but they have frittered that away and their role is likely to become increasingly passive, in much the way white South Africans lost the initiative down there.

    • And in the US, this story is likely to be untold by the mass media. So little grass roots political pressure will be brought to bear. So far the only thing I see thats changed is that Israel seems to think its got the Palestinians into such a hopeless situation that they can just take it all.

  3. Bennet is correct that the two state solution is already dead.It was killed by the Israeli colonization project. The only solution now is a single secular state from the Med to the Jordan with equal rights for all. The anti-apartheid, civil rights push must beginnow. Israeli right wing hardliners successfully killed the two state solution and now must learn to live with the consequences.

  4. I would be interested to see Bennet explain the difference between his vison of subservient Palestinians living in an area “short of a state” and the Bantustans planned by apartheid era South Africa.

  5. It’s hopeless..we are looking at a 100 to 200 war..the Muslims/Arabs have the time and the demographics to wage a struggle forever…they know it…the Jews have brains science and chutzpah..but in 100 yrs they will be looking at a billion Arabs alone…the Israelis will have to make a deal sometime..I really doubt the Arabs will deal ever…that leaves either a all out war to completely destroy their enemy’s..or Israel’s …well hopefully a deal can be struck…

    • Israel has, at the most, another 20 years.

      The global conditions are rapidly going negative for Israel:

      – The US is losing power to Asia (who do not care one bit about Israel other than to strip-mine it for intellectual property).

      – Israel has lost (and will NEVER regain) military superiority. The world is awash in war toys equal to or better than anything Israel has or will ever have. There are no “magic” weapons. Also, the Persians have adopted a military philosophy of lots of inexpensive, but “good enough” weapons which easily trumps the Israeli (and US) philosophy of relatively small numbers of expensive high-tech stuff.

      – US supporters of Israel are a declining part of the US population. A large majority of the people born after the Vietnam war are neutral to negative about Israel and the older supporters are dying off (~2000/day).

      – The Arabs have had a “peace plan” on the table for over 10 years. Since it forces Israelis to give up most of their grand dreams (actually delusions), Israelis have chosen to ignore it.

      The bottom line is Israel can NOT win the next war and would be stupid to try (I think that most of the IDF leadership knows this reality, but NONE of the politicians appear to understand). Eventually, Israel will come under extreme economic stress due to isolation. As a result, the political leaders in Israel will eventually be forced to fall on their swords and make a deal with the Arabs which will make Israel give up lots of land, water, cash (for compensation) and apologies for Israel’s past actions.

      If Israelis were not so delusional, they would get a better deal today, but the political leaders are so craven and the population so delusional, the worse deal will not happen until all the dreams die.

  6. #MES20: I am appalled that even despite the fact that Israel’s next PM to be openly claims that he will not accept a two state solution Western Media can argue that there is democratic hope for the people of Palestine. Frankly speaking, the state of Israel is reverse engineering a holocaust on the people of Gaza and the rest of the world seems to be okay with it, and to me that cannot be justified by some Zionist delusion of birth right of a promised land.

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