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Speaking to an Evangelical pro-Israel group, Netanyahu assured the audience that Israel’s annexation of the West Bank will likely be supported by the Trump administration. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has stated that the decision to annex is up to Israel and the US will relay its thoughts privately.

The Palestinians have expressed extreme disapproval over any measures to further diminish the geography of a long-promised Palestinian state. However, with annexation, any hopes for a two-state solution are effectively thrown out the window rendering it geographically unfeasible. The extension of Israeli sovereignty will slice through the West Bank engulfing and fragmenting Palestinian territory, reminiscent of the South African Bantustans.

The emergence of a turbulent political climate in Israel after a series of three inconclusive elections led to a deal to form a unity government between the right-wing Likud, and the center Blue and White parties. One of the stipulations in that deal is for either party to possess veto power over any legislation proposed by the other with one exception: Netanyahu’s plans for annexation will remain unchallenged as long as it receives support from Washington.

The US holds the authority to stop this plan in its tracks. However, the Palestinians are not holding their breaths for an American intervention, a notion that was underscored by Trump’s unveiling of a so-called ‘Middle Past peace plan’ earlier this year.  Netanyahu stated “Three months ago, the Trump peace plan recognized Israel’s rights in all of Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank by its biblical name. “A couple of months from now, I’m confident that that pledge will be honored,” he added. The Trump administration yet again proved to the Palestinians—and to the rest of the world—that the US is no longer an honest broker for peace.

Israel’s occupied territories in the West Bank remain illegal under numerous international laws and have been subjected to UN resolutions urging the state’s withdrawal.

The plan to annex received overwhelming condemnation from the international community. Joseph Borrell, foreign policy chief for the European Union said that a potential annexation “would constitute a serious violation of international law.” The Middle East peace envoy for the United Nations Nikolay Mladenov dubbed the move as crippling the prospects of a future two-state solution and will “close the door to a renewal of negotiations and threaten efforts to advance regional peace.” Nonetheless, Trump’s salient relationship with Netanyahu guarantees a green light for even categorical violations of international law.

Analysis:

To be candid, the Trump presidency is a political windfall for the nationalist Israeli Prime Minister. Netanyahu sees the Trump administration as a window of opportunity to push controversial policies with an American stick, an opportunity that is not fully guaranteed come November. In the midst of Israeli elections, Netanyahu is hoping that voters keep an Israeli expansion in their minds while heading to the polls. To compound his motivations further, Netanyahu is facing criminal charges of corruption, fraud, and breach of trust and is betting on the fact that staying in office and maintaining a fruitful relationship with the US President will mitigate his legal fate.

Donald Trump has election concerns of his own. With an already unshakeable Evangelical voter base, a dogmatic approval of Israeli wishes will further buttress his popularity among the Conservative, pro-Israel voters.

It is in the interest of all Americans to make sure the President does not sanction the illegal activity of any country. The US’s historic position as an honest broker for peace, and for a two-state solution has been completely gutted under the administration of Donald Trump. The US should use its influential position to pressure the Israeli government to comply with international laws rather than to allow itself to be implicated as supporters of an illegal occupation.

Resistance Resources

  • Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Is an American activist organization focused on peace through the self-determination and security of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. JVP gathers Jewish-American support in an attempt to spread awareness of the illegal occupation with the goal of having Israel abide by international law.
  • Americans For Peace Now  Has since 1978 been apposed to Israeli expansion and has been keeping track and publishing construction and settlements in the West Bank. been working tirelessly to persuade American leaders and the public to adopt policies that work towards a two-state solution and consistent with American interests.
  • Foundation for Middle East Peace is a center for peace based in Washington D.C. that has been keeping track of Israeli settlements in the west bank and also publishes legislation relating to Israel in the US congress. FMEP urges for complete human rights for the Palestinians.

 

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