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True to form, Israel will carry out annexation in stages Open in fullscreen

Ali Adam

True to form, Israel will carry out annexation in stages

The Israeli settlement of Efrat, situated on the southern outskirts of Bethlehem [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 June, 2020

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Comment: Colonising Palestinian territories little by little is a tried tested formula that helps Israel avoid accountability. Annexation is no different, writes Ali Adam.
The Israeli government is now discussing with the Trump administration a plan for its "gradual" annexation of areas of the West Bank, to take place in several installments.

Netanyahu said on 15 June that Israel may implement the annexation in phases, indicating that the US will only support the annexation if the alternate prime minister, Benny Gantz is on board.

But there's much more to Israel's decision to carry out annexation incrementally. This approach falls in line with Israel's decades-long way of colonising the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Israeli colonisation playbook says that you do it gradually, and the world becomes numb to it, reducing any possibility for any international reaction.

The result is that Israel ends up evading accountability for flagrant violations of international law, but also having the world on its side, because if the world is not on the side of the victim, it's on the side of the oppressor.

So in order to avoid a clash with the international community, and especially some European countries who threatened to punish Israel if it moves ahead with annexation, Netanyahu has decided to do it in phases.

It's no secret that European countries are not particularly enthusiastic about confronting Israel and its occupation, but Netanyahu knows that annexation in one fell swoop could force their hands into a punitive reaction. Installments, on the other hand, will make it less of a burden on the international community's shoulders; easier to ignore.

What goes for Europe and trying to avoid a reaction from them, also applies to a lesser degree, to the US Congress, Arab countries, and to Palestinians themselves.

The result is that Israel ends up evading accountability for flagrant violations of international law

Phasing in annexation is also part of Israel's desire to keep the mirage of the peace process and the two-state solution floating.

For over two decades, Israel strived to achieve two things simultaneously: Expanding its settlement enterprise in the West bank in a way meticulously-designed to guarantee the death of any possibility for a Palestinian state; and meanwhile, maintaining the mirage of the peace process, negotiations and the two-state solution. 

Similarly, Netanyahu now wants to annex the West bank in stages, while maintaining the illusion of the peace process and the mirage that the two-state solution is still possible. This Israeli tactic helps them evade accountability for their increasingly-entrenched occupation, and for Apartheid.

Netanyahu's ambassador to the US presented this argument in an opinion piece he wrote for the Washington Post, in which he claimed that Israel's annexation of the West Bank will not destroy the two-state solution, but will actually help revive the peace process.

A graphic put out by the White House as part of its 'Peace to Prosperity' plan [White House]

Taken in context, Israel's annexation of Palestinian territories shouldn't be seen as a new development, as much as the final phase of the Israeli creeping colonisation of the West Bank that started decades ago, and the culmination of a territorial and demographic reality created by the expansionist policies of the Israeli occupation. 

The annexation of the West Bank is the predictable dot at the end of the line as far as Israel's efforts to end any possibility for a Palestinian state are concerned. It's what's been on the Israeli agenda since the occupation began. 

For decades, Israel has worked tooth and nail to lay the ground to expand and consolidate its settlement enterprise in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, through the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, and the displacement of Palestinians, replaced by settlers.

Nowadays, the number of settlers in the occupied territories exceeds 750,000, and is increasing. And in Area C, which Israel now wants to annex, Israel has for decades demolished Palestinian homes, leaving them with less than one per cent of that area, according to the UN. After annexing East Jerusalem, Israel's goal is to annex the settlement blocs, and areas that have isolated settlements, as well as the Jordan Valley, all with US blessing. 

The Israeli colonisation playbook says that you do it gradually, and the world becomes numb to it, reducing any possibility for any international reaction

The Israeli hopes to convince the world that what's left of the West bank after annexation can still be a state for the Palestinians, even though that 'state' doesn't have its capital, borders, territorial contiguity, sovereignty, control of the movement of its citizens, etc.

And even the model of cantonized Bantustans that Israel and the US wants to offer the Palestinians for them to call it a 'state', is objected to by a significant section in the Israeli government and the Israeli society.

As annexation nears, it's critically important that the phased approach not be a sigh of relief for the international community, but a cause for alarm and action. The situation in the occupied territories is far worse than it ever was, and the Palestinian suffering is at its zenith.

It's urgent and critical that the international community doesn't overlook the looming annexation of Palestinian territories, be it partial or total, gradual or in one fell swoop, just as it overlooked decades of settlement expansion at the expensive of Palestinian lives and homes, as well as numerous flagrant human rights violations.

Ali Adam is a journalist and researcher whose work focuses on issues linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Follow him on Twitter @_Ali_Adam_

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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