The coronavirus pandemic enabled the details of dirty politics to abscond from public scrutiny. As the hype over the virus declines, mainstream media erupted over the annexation announcements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after forming an emergency unity government with the leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz, also former Chief of the Israeli Defense Forces.
For the first six months, the new coalition government is not expected to tackle major political issues. The coronavirus pandemic remains a veneer for a more pressing item on the Israeli colonial agenda – the annexation of swathes of the occupied West Bank. By July of this year, Netanyahu is expected to submit the annexation plans to the Knesset.
With the US heading towards the presidential elections in November, Netanyahu realizes the time constraints under which he must operate to unilaterally implement the most desired targets of President Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century. Media outlets, mainly concerned with the pandemic instead of politics, are now presenting annexation as yet another detached Israeli violation and transgression against international law. Disregarding the process – a recurring theme in international politics – works in Israel’s favor. It enables diplomats to rely on statements which barely differ from one announcement to the other – in particular, the tenacity to protect the two-state compromise.
The Palestinian predicament must be linked to the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan, which granted concessions to Zionist colonization.
However, the current Palestinian predicament must be linked to the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan which granted the first concessions to Zionist colonization and which also influenced the two-state paradigm. In recent politics, of course, Israel availed itself of Trump’s pro-Israel bias and the deal which leaves Palestinians dependent on humanitarian assistance, unable to thrive on the disjointed remains of land which the US designated as a hypothetical Palestinian state.
COVID-19 was a welcome diversion for Israel, as it overshadowed the fact that in February this year, weeks after the details of Trump’s plan were revealed, US officials met with their Israeli counterparts to start mapping the forthcoming annexation.
In view of such intricate scheming, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cannot hope to deceive anyone with his recent statement pretending that the US held no sway over Israel’s accelerated annexation plans. “As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions. That’s an Israeli decision. And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in [a] private setting,” Pompeo recently told reporters.
Half-truths are convenient fodder for Israel. Yet in 2019, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the New York Times that “Under certain circumstances, Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”
In response to Netanyahu’s annexation announcements, the UN and the EU have been predictable.
In response to Netanyahu’s annexation announcements, the UN and the EU have been predictable. When Israel’s colonial settlement expansion suddenly became a matter of urgency, after decades of land theft since 1948, the international community issued numerous statements about how settlement expansion threatened the two-state paradigm. Unsurprisingly, the same argument has been regurgitated by the international community to spell its purported opposition to Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies is predicting that the international community’s response to annexation will depend upon the extent to which Israel implements annexation, as well as the Palestinian reaction to the land theft. The latter will likely elicit the usual rhetoric regarding Israel’s “right to defend itself” – a phrase which legitimized Israel’s periodic bombing of Gaza within the international community.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov described the annexation plans as dealing “a devastating blow to the two-state solution.” True to its diplomacy, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell stated that the bloc will “continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly.”
In his meetings with EU representatives, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Secretary-General Saeb Erekat insisted that annexation should be rejected and the two-state paradigm implemented, thus playing directly into the international community’s most cherished diplomatic agenda which also includes Palestine’s gradual disappearance.
There is no longer the possibility of the two-state paradigm being implemented.
There is no longer the possibility of the two-state paradigm being implemented. The international community has made sure that nothing remains of the two-state politics except for its rhetorical diplomacy. This is understandable as the two-state ideology promotes and preserves Israeli colonialism, disguised by the possibility of a Palestinian state emerging solely to protect Israel’s security. In the absence of the two-state materializing, the international community does not stand to lose, given its allegiance to Israel.
Tacit silence regarding Israel’s colonial policies and complete endorsement of colonial security narratives have resulted in a situation where the choice lies between Trump’s deal and its unilateral implementation by Israel, and international consensus to safeguard the two-state rhetoric for the sake of the international agenda.
Trump’s deal has merely ushered in a new step for the international community to contemplate. The series of concessions which the US made to Israel, as well as the international community’s propaganda to portray the Deal of the Century as being in opposition to the internationally-agreed parameters, have now resulted in a scenario where Israel is able to implement its political choices more aggressively. Meanwhile, the international community is left to protect its role as facilitator of annexation, which would have happened with or without Trump, and to continue normalizing Israel’s violations within the international community.
For Palestinians, this translates to a no-choice between two different forms of colonization. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is the Palestinian Authority’s endorsement of the international consensus on the two-state paradigm as a solution for the Palestinian people, despite knowing it is simply choosing to support one form of colonization over another.