West Bank Annexation
25 July 2020
The anouncement by Netanyahu that Israel intends to annex 30% of the West bank and a greater proportion of Jerusalem itself has provoked anger among Palestinians and their supporters internationally and uncertainty among some Zionist supporters. But despite the presentation of this latest outrage as something new it is best viewed as a continuation of the historic theft of Palestine from the Palestinian people.
Concentration on the latest atrocity does not fully reflect the long term strategy of imperialism and Zionism and tends to forget the long series of atrocities that predate even the Naqba. On the left it reflects a slavish dependence on spontaneity. There exists a tendency to allow this to focus activity entirely on the next big thing, on tactics rather than strategy and to ultimately collapse in the face of imperialist strategy.
The Latest Annexation
During the September election in 2019 Netenyahu (Likud) announced plans to annex the West Bank, which had been categorised as Area C as part of the peace process. Area C has continuously been eroded by the floods of illegal settlements that were encouraged by the Israeli State and Jerusalem has been the scene of repeated attacks on Palestinian occupants. The election was fought by Likud on a far right platform against the Blue/White Alliance, Kahol Lavan, led by Benny Gantz, ex head of the IDF until 2015 and the announcement of the annexation was timed to attempt to siphon support away from Gantz and the extreme right.
It was more than an electoral tactic however. The land captured during the 1967 war was always intended to be part of a Greater Israel. The Two State solution negotiated in the 90's saw the establishment of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank under Abbas which allowed the reactionary Arab leadership of the Arab League to come on board with a strategy that the Israeli and US were viewing only as a stop-gap. The persecution of Gaza continued unabated and settlers continued to flood in to Palestinian land.
The peace talks collapsed in 2014 and following Trump's election the US re-jigged the Two State solution by simply giving Israel the green light to go ahead with an open land grab. The practical opening up of the latest period was signalled by Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem but the Israeli election's outcome was not decisive and has resulted in Netanyahu and Gantz sharing power with a rotating premiership and at the same time Trump's further tenure is in question.
Making it completely clear what the relationship is between Israel and imperialism Netanyahu announced at the time of the election that the annexation plans would not go ahead until the US published its peace plan. Trump's plan was duly released in January which he entitled 'The Deal of the Century'. It hands Israel the permission to take direct control over 30% of what had been categorised during the peace process as Area C, including most of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem and a few isolated cantons would then make up the remnants ofa Palestinian State, even less viable than before without the benefit of an agricultural hinterland as the fertile Jordan valley and the entirety of the Dead Sea coast, which is rich in minerals, would go officially to Israel. The plan contains all the usual hypocritical claims that no Palestinians would be moved during the annexation but at the same time making it clear that they would not qualify for Israeli citizenship.
The same or similar promises have been repeatedly ignored by a country that is historically based on ethnic cleansing the most glaringly familiar example being the Naqba in 1948 but rather than being something unique the Naqba was merely a spike in expulsions. What did distinguish the 1948 attack on the Palestinian people however was the exposure of the hypocrisy surrounding Israeli expansion. During the Naqba the Palestinians were ostensibly to be protected from ethnic cleansing by UN resolution 181, which in essence was a partition plan. The difference was that while earlier dispossessions had been reprehensible but formally legal, this was reprehensible and formally illegal! Off course imperialism's eyes are blind to the atrocities of their agents.
Now, with a population of 327,000 people already living in the West Bank, what we would see is an expansion of the Zionist's massive ethnic cleansing operation. Both sides were to have been required to havegiven the go ahead for the annexation but the US ambassador to Israel clarified that the Israeli's would not have to wait for any form of approval should the PA dig its heels in.
The plans have produced some protest and Trump's less than secure position in the White House has given the Israelis pause for thought. In Britain even the arch Zionist Board of Deputies have come under pressure to oppose the annexation by worried Zionists whose letter to the Israeli embassy was ignored but their concerns, lacking any sense of irony, was that the annexation would 'damage Israel's reputation' and give credibility to the BDS movement.
The annexation was planned to have gone ahead on July 1st but was postponed. Netanyahu is attempting to pacify the PA by telling them the annexation will apply only to a few of the older settler blocks. The decision has been made and although Netenyahu may have decided to proceed with some caution 1 million settlers have moved to east Jerusalem and the West Bank, a four fold increase since the start of the peace process which began with the 1993 Oslo accords. The concerns of the Zionists are well founded, we live in highly unstable times and the crimes of Zionism and their imperialist backers are being exposed like never before in recent history.
To put the latest iteration
of the genocide in Palestine in context we include an interview conducted
by the Electronic Intefada with the Palestinian academic and historian