Occupied West Bank at core of Israeli vote
“With God’s help, we will apply Jewish sovereignty over all communities as part of the land of Israel and the State of Israel. We will not uproot anyone [Jewish settlers] here,” said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu made his vow to impose Israeli sovereignty on the occupied West Bank as a whole September 1 during a visit to the settlement of Elkana.
The statement came when Israel was already destroying Palestinians houses, neighbourhoods and villages, revoking residency permits of Palestinians in Jerusalem and ignoring racist settler attacks.
This means the Palestinian Authority is not needed anymore as a “peace partner” to resolve the ongoing decades-long conflict.
Netanyahu’s words came two weeks before Israelis vote in a general election. Such remarks show he hopes to win the votes of the extreme trends in various settler groups and political factions. He affirmed on several occasions that he won’t allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.
After each announcement of building or expanding settlements, Palestinian officials express their condemnation and call on the international community to react.
“Israel’s PM is announcing further annexation of occupied territory. Enough impunity: There’s an international responsibility to impose sanctions on Israel after decades of systematic crimes,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat posted on Twitter.
The European Union or the United Nations can only denounce the move and remind Israel of its violations to international law but does that mean anything other than for Israel to continue to act with impunity?
The European Union rejected the idea of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and stated that it would create chaos and violence in the Middle East when Netanyahu made his first promise last April.
“The EU does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over any of the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, in line with international law and with UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497,” said the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
It is important to know that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been sliced into isolated Bantustans and surrounded by a 750km illegal separation wall is inhabited by about 3 million Palestinians, while about 700,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements and protected posts connected by a network of roads.
Netanyahu also made a rare visit to the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, in what seems to be an attempt to gather public support among settlers there.
“Netanyahu is a serial offender, at times stealing from the public and giving to his tycoon friends and at other times pushing the State of Israel towards committing the war crime of annexation that will lead to the death of countless Palestinians and Israelis,” said Chairman of Joint List at the Israeli Knesset Ayman Odeh.
Only the end of the occupation will give both sides — Israelis and Palestinians — hope for the future. The peace process was undermined by relentless Israeli policies designed to strangle any chances for stability and peace in the region.
Netanyahu hopes to boost his popularity ahead of the September 17 elections, following the blow to his dignity after he failed to form a viable coalition government last April. That failure cost him dearly even at the external front: The American-proposed Deal of the Century was put on hold and is expected to be published after the Israeli elections.
It’s not known how the international community would react to the annexation of the West Bank but the Trump administration is likely to accept it.
Israel in August approved construction permits for 715 new units in Palestinian towns in Area C in the West Bank. This decision was a move to prepare the ground for extending Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank and to prevent the founding of a Palestinian state.
The two-state solution is dead and the possibility of establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state has vanished, so what other options are left for Palestinians if the West Bank becomes part of Israel?