Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (left) and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman study a map on February 24 as a joint panel begins studying possible parameters for annexations in the West Bank. (David Azagury/US Embassy Jerusalem)

American and Israeli Land Grabs

Al-Etihad, UAE, June 6

The Israeli government is free to annex 30% of West Bank lands as long as it bets on three facts. The first is that the United States does not oppose the move despite recent leaks about the White House’s request to slow down the process. The second is the use of military force to crush Palestinian protests. The third is that the Arab and international reactions against Israel remain soft and hazy. The irony of this situation is that those who might actually prevent this annexation are not peace activists but actually far-right Israelis who oppose the government’s plan under the pretext that it leaves “too much land” for the Palestinians. This group wants to kill the two-state solution at any cost, even if it means postponing a formal takeover of some lands. Perhaps even more ironic is that the existence of these extreme positions helps Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who all of the sudden seems like a moderate. Yet it is clear to all observers that the question of annexation is used as a tool by both the Israeli prime minister and the American president to wield domestic political influence at home and weaken their opponents. What is certain is that for the first time in the history of Israeli-American relations, support for Israel is no longer a bipartisan issue, with Democrats increasingly taking critical positions toward their longtime ally, and Republicans severing their tone against the Palestinians. There is no doubt that the changes within America – including the coronavirus, the economic crisis resulting from it, and the social unrest that has taken over the country – make Israel a lesser priority in American eyes. But Netanyahu wants to seize the current moment and reap its political gains while dealing with its repercussions later, regardless of who is sitting in the White House. The world’s unwillingness to address the dangerous plan to annex Palestinian territories has brought to the fore what Washington has been ignoring all along: namely, that the US peace plan is politically, humanly and geographically unbalanced, offering the Palestinian people a few billion dollars in exchange for an unjust solution on the ground. – Abdul Wahab Badrakhan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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