To Annex or Not to Annex — Is the Question Moot?

by | Jul 22, 2020

To Annex or Not to Annex — Is the Question Moot?

by | Jul 22, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who remains under a cloud of personal corruption, had more or less promised to annex some of the West Bank in July. He’s let his deadline slip, we’ve been told, because he doesn’t want to proceed while his buddy Trump is preoccupied with other matters. He must need the cover, which is interesting in itself. Meanwhile leading Jewish Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer are uneasy with annexation talk, perhaps because his party is no longer solidly in Israel’s corner.

So who can say when and if a formal annexation will occur? I prefer to ask: does it matter? If the state of Israel does nothing, the Palestinians of the West Bank will remain without rights, ruled under an apartheid regime either by Israel directly or by Israel’s subcontractor for security, the authoritarian Palestinian Authority.

As the indefatigable Norman Finkelstein often reminds us, Israel has already de facto annexed the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which is just a big open-air prison. Under international law, when a government occupies an adversary’s territory during a war, it is obliged to regard the occupation as strictly temporary. Keeping it and moving citizens into it are indisputably illegal acts. The law makes no distinction between offensive and defensive wars, although the 1967 war, in which Israel seized the Palestinian territories (which Jordan had occupied since 1948), was not defensive.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice reaffirmed this aspect of international law when it condemned Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the Jewish-only settlements, and the wall of separation as illegal.

By now, after 53 years, we are entitled to notice that Israel’s occupation is not temporary. And that means the territories’ status is not one of occupation but of annexation. It won’t do to say that Israeli governments have tried to negotiate with the Palestinians according to the land-for-peace formula called for by the postwar UN Resolution 242. Israel has often pretended that it would be willing to give up some land for peace, but it is hard to take those gestures seriously. Every so-called “generous” Israeli offer contained so many conditions and Israeli prerogatives that the Palestinian territories would have been nothing more than a scattered archipelago of vassal districts. This is no less true of Trump’s grand plan for Israel and Palestine.

The Palestinians have been victims of a cruel Israeli (and American) joke — often with the complicity of what are laughably called their rulers, who have put their personal interests ahead of the people they claim to represent.

No wonder Netanyahu is in no hurry. He’s already got what he wants. If he were to formally annex some of the West Bank, he would get flak both from those who support the long-suffering Palestinians and from his domestic right-wing, which will complain that he did not annex enough.

So as I say, what’s his hurry?

About Sheldon Richman

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies; former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education; and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest books are Coming to Palestine and What Social Animals Owe to Each Other.

Read My Books

Our Books

6 Libooks011721lg

Related Articles

Related

Substantive Due Process

[T]he conservatives reject substantive due process, which they see as a contradiction in terms that authorizes judges to legislate. If the term sounds odd, it would be odder still to dismiss the idea. As Roger Pilon writes, “By ‘law’ [in due process of law] the...

read more

Privacy and the Constitution

"[B]oth the [']liberals['] and the conservatives misunderstand privacy. The conservatives engage in a narrow and unnatural reading of the Constitution in order to avoid seeing what they do not wish to see, while the [']liberals['] find in the Constitution not...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This