Israel’s annexation plan ends with a fiasco
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
by Yoav Haifawi in Haifa
The first wave of the Corona virus came at a very good timing for Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister. Just as his trial for three severe charges of corruption had to begin, and with all parties exhausted from three consecutive inconclusive elections, the virus caused a sense of emergency. This enabled him to postpone his trial and convince most of the Zionist opposition to join his government. The second COVID wave, with daily infection counts soaring for the first time above the thousand, came as a useful distraction from the failure of his new government to fulfill one of its central election promises: to annex sections of the West Bank, occupied since 1967, starting in July 1st.
It is a rare victory for the Palestinians, who have struggled for more than a century to stay on their ancestral land, under constant attacks from Zionist expropriation and colonization campaigns. House demolition, land confiscation and the building of Jewish-exclusive settlements on stolen land continue to be the core policy of all Israeli governments. They are applied in different ways both against Palestinians in the areas that Israel occupied and annexed in 1948-9 (and are formally citizens of Israel); and Palestinians in the West Bank that, since its occupation in 1967, is held under direct military rule.
Israel, hypocritically, doesn’t recognize any Palestinian land as “occupied” and denies the Palestinian population even the few rights that are reserved for civilians under occupation according to international law. But it is aware of the fact that much of the world, including its imperialist allies, consider those of its settlements that were built under military occupation as illegal. The annexation plan was designed to “normalize” the existing settlements, and to give the occupiers more legal tools to continue with the expropriation and ethnic cleansing of the original Palestinian population.
Under constant attack, the Palestinians this time united to reject the Israeli-USA plan. For a long time, Fatah, the traditional leadership of the PLO, built its strategy on negotiations with Israel in the framework of USA “mediation”. It hoped to get at least some form of Palestinian independence in the 22% of Palestine that Israel occupied in 1967. But this bleak hope was fading even before the new annexation plan was announced.
Hamas, the main Islamist resistance movement and party, won the rare semi-free elections to the Palestinian legislature on 2006. It did this by a platform that combined resistance to the occupation with rejection of the corruption of the Fatah leadership and building grass-root social organizations. But it could actually take control only in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel, under the pressure of the resistance, had withdrawn its army and settlements from Gaza a year before. This added a new level of division of the Palestinian people - between Gaza and the West Bank. This topped attempts by Israel to distance the millions of Palestinian refugees outside of the country from any perspective of political solution; and to prevent the Palestinian national institutions from representing Palestinians in the 1948 occupied territories. Another special status was given to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which was split off from the rest of the West Bank and annexed shortly after its occupation: they are now “residents” but not “citizens”.
Now Israel is busy digesting the West Bank into its sophisticated apartheid system. The method, as always, is to strangle and divide the Palestinian people, geographically and politically, under different precarious statuses and racist laws, while uniting all the Jewish settler population under a single civil citizenship.
The conservative Palestinian leadership's readiness to cooperate with the fake “peace process” came under farther strain, as the Trump administration took ever more steps to make life harder for the Palestinian people, undermine all Palestinian institutions and encourage Israeli aggression. Trump celebrated with Netanyahu the USA “gifting” the whole of Jerusalem to Israel. Afterwards even Mahmoud Abbas, the most compliant Palestinian leader and president of the Palestine Authority (under occupation) in Ramallah, refused to negotiate about Trump’s “deal of the century”. Hamas, on its side, hinted at another armed conflict if Israel will go on in its annexation plan.
As July 1st approached, General Gantz, who is supposed to be Netanyahu’s “reasonable” coalition partner, declared that: as the Palestinians are not ready to discuss Israel’s annexation, they will “remain in their deep shit” and Israel will move on with annexation alone. But pressure on Israel has mounted with the European Union, Britain and US Democratic Party presidential candidate Biden all warning Israel of severe consequences.
Meanwhile the Trump administration itself was divided. David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, pressed for a wide annexation, while Kushner, the president’s son in law, asked for a smaller plan. Netanyahu and Gantz waited for a final word from the President, which didn’t come. Finally, on July 1st, Israel did nothing. On the next day Fatah and Hamas held together an unprecedented press conference declaring unity in struggle against Israel’s continuing occupation.
Yes, the Palestinian are still deep in the shit – but it is not theirs. The shit is Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, occupation and racism. The fiasco of the July 1st annexation might give some hope that the tide of shit is beginning to turn.
Israel succeeded not by its own power, but by the unlimited support it always received from Western imperialism, militarily, economically and politically. At the time of the cold war Israel was a bulwark of US hegemony against leftist and nationalist Arab regimes in countries like Egypt and Syria.
As the cold war was over and the West dropped it support for Apartheid in South Africa, Israel succeeded to position itself at the middle of the crusade against “Islamic terrorism”. It fanned the fire of Islamophobia and dragged the USA into a bloody and costly war in Iraq. As the enthusiasm for military adventures has faded in the West, Israel found a new brand to champion. This was its cocktail of colonialism, white supremacy and disdain for the rights of the oppressed put it at the vanguard of a new type of conservative populists that emerged from the degeneration of the Western hegemony, the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson.
At every twist and turn Israel turned more belligerent, more racist, and received more praise and material “prizes” at the expense of the Palestinians from its imperialist masters. It become completely spoiled on the personal and national level. Now, as the world is engulfed with a new mass movement against racism, we can hope that Israel’s regime, where racism is the basis of everything, will at last go out of fashion.
Yoav Haifawi is an anti-Zionist activist and maintains the blogs Free Haifa and Free Haifa Extra.This is the first appearance of this article, which will appear in Spanish in the Argentinian press. Reproduced with the author's permission.