Lost in the fog of the international news media’s round-the-clock coverage of the global COVID-19 pandemic were five casually spoken words that effectively delivered a deathblow to the future of both the Palestinian and self-proclaimed “Jewish” states: “That is an Israel decision!”
Those words, by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were addressed to reporters on Wednesday in response to the Netanyahu-Gantz emergency government signaling its intention to annex the Jordan Valley, illegal Jewish settlements, and other territory in the occupied West Bank. All are actions that constitute a flagrant violation of international law.
The reality of the situation, however, is Israel would never dream or dare of moving ahead with its plan to formalize its theft and colonization of the Palestinian territory absent US approval. Israel’s illegal occupation is entirely dependent on the United States’ power to stave off any international action against it at the United Nations.
In the eyes of the UN, Israel’s settler enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territories constitutes a war crime.
In the eyes of the UN, and thus from the perspective of international law, Israel’s settler enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territories constitutes a war crime meant to “deny Palestinians the basis for a real statehood and a viable economy.”
However, in giving Tel Aviv the green light, the Trump administration has not only killed all hopes and possibility of Palestinian nationhood, but also the Zionist dream of a Jewish state, given annexation of the Palestinian territories leaves Israel responsible for the lives and wellbeing of 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Thus, leaving Israel with a self-defeating conundrum, one in which all roads lead to its eventual demise as a Jewish state.
If Israel grants Palestinians equal rights under the law, then it can no longer lay claim to being a Jewish state, given non-Jewish citizens will outnumber the Jewish population. But if it denies Palestinians equal rights, then it chooses to rule over them with a system of apartheid, which means it will no longer assert – as feeble as such proclamations are now – to being a democracy, a move that will further isolate Israel from the international community, and lead to great economic costs.
This moral and diplomatic dilemma does not come as a surprise to Israel. Annexing the occupied West Bank is the very nightmare liberal Zionists have warned against for decades, and even more vocally in more recent times, specifically in the age of Trump.
Israeli lobby group J-Street had been pressuring the Trump administration to remain silent on Israel’s plans for annexation.
For instance, the Israel lobby group J-Street had been pressuring the Trump administration to renounce or remain silent on Israel’s stated plans for annexation, describing such a move as “dangerous to Israel, and against the interests of Israel,” and blaming the Messianic-Right for leading the country to self-destruction.
Last week, Israeli lawmaker Yair Golan told a J-Street audience: “Annexing 30 percent of Judea and Samaria is against the interests of Israel. Many former security figures say that. . . . It’s according to some sort of messianic approach to life which… was so dangerous and so devastating along the Jewish history. . . . So, we need to fight it. . . . Israel won’t do this annexation without the approval of United States. So yes, you need to work hard in Capitol Hill in order to block this development, which is so dangerous to Israel, against the interest of Israel.”
While Netanyahu and the settler movement have made no secret of their desire to formally annex the West Bank, what’s different today is the Israeli government has set an actual date, and thus all but assuring the country’s doomed fate.
On July 1, the Knesset will hold a vote on annexation. Lawmakers have made clear the parliamentary ballot will be held “as quickly as possible” and without delay, which suggests Israel’s right believes it holds a likely majority on the bill.
No doubt, Israel’s sudden haste to annex the West Bank is driven by a belief that the international community is distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and genuine concerns that Trump will fail in his bid to be reelected in November, given most recent polls show the US President trails his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, by significant margins in all of the battleground states.
Israel’s haste to annex the West Bank is driven by a belief that the international community is distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond Israel’s shortsighted gaze, the storm clouds are brewing and gathering, with the European Union warning they will deliver a “strong response” should the Knesset vote for annexing the West Bank; France saying annexation will “not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel;” and human rights groups, such as Americans For Peace Now, affirming Israel to be on track to guaranteeing its status as an international “pariah.”
When future historians write their obituaries for the “Jewish State,” it’s likely their conclusions will narrate how Israel became a victim of its own success during the Trump presidential era, with the former reality television host granting Israel’s settler movement every wish, from recognizing Jerusalem as capital to green lighting the annexation and colonization of stolen Palestinian land.
With a great irony, Trump, who had been hailed as the “King of Israel” in pro-Israel circles, will ultimately be the man responsible for the demise of the Jewish state.