During an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 TV news, the Prime Minister was asked why he had not annexed some of the larger settlement blocks during his current term. Netanyahu answered, “The question you are asking is an interesting question, whether we will move to the next stage and the answer is yes. We will move to the next stage, the imposing of Israeli sovereignty.”
The PM added, “I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.”
Annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), or its entirety, has been a hot issue in the right wing camp for years and most right wing politicians, including Likud members, have either pledged to do so or indicated that they are in favor of doing so. The notable exception has been the PM, until now.
Whether Netanyahu’s annexation pledge is just a tactic for galvanizing right wing voters before Tuesday’s election, or whether he will actually carry it out in the face of immense international pressure and massive diplomatic and economic repercussions is anyone’s guess. Annexation would also most likely go against the soon to be released Trump Middle East peace plan, and the PM definitely does not want to cross the US President.
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To better understand the potential consequences of annexation, it’s worthwhile reading a report published by Commanders for Israel’s Security, a non partisan movement of over 280 retired generals and equivalents in Israel’s security services, including the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet and Israel Police.
The Commander’s report is unequivocally against the unilateral annexation either the entire West Bank, or even just Area C (which includes the areas with an Israeli presence and encompasses 60% of the West Bank), for the following reasons:
1. The cost of securing the area and of providing the Palestinian residents with social services will be prohibitive (tens of billions of dollars annually).
2. The international ramifications, including government sanctions and private BDS actions, will be crippling to the Israeli economy.
3. Israel will eventually be forced to grant citizenship to the 2.5 million Palestinians in the territories or face being labeled an apartheid state and be isolated and shunned like was the case with South Africa. Granting them citizenship will destroy the concept of a Jewish democratic state in Israel.
4. The annexation of territory will cause the downfall of the Palestinian Authority (which will lose the little credibility it still has) and will force Israel to take full security and administrative control over the entire territory, again causing a huge strain on the Israeli economy and the IDF.
To read the report click here.
Israel’s security services are warning that Israel’s elections are potentially vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cybersecurity firms have identified efforts by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to breach party databases. Despite Israel’s use of paper voting ballots, the actual vote count is done digitally, which opens up the potential for manipulating the final totals.
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Israel’s elections will take place tomorrow. There are 39 political parties running for election to the Knesset. Most will not pass the required threshold of 3.25% of the total vote to win any seats. To get a better understanding of what all the parties stand for, check out this comprehensive guide by the Times of Israel – click here.