Israel will annex nothing

Dr. Norman Bailey

Applying "annexation" to what is legitimately its own territory is just another example of poor Israeli public diplomacy.

Israel will annex nothing because it cannot--it does not occupy territory once part of another country. The use of the word "annexation" by the Israeli government is simply another indication of the fact that Israel never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to promote itself effectively. The use of the word by others is an indication of ignorance or hostility.

The so-called West Bank was occupied, and in fact annexed, by Jordan, following its aggressive war against the new state of Israel in 1948. Gaza was occupied (although not formally annexed) by Egypt at the same time and by the same process. Israel drove the Jordanians out of Samaria and Judea and the Egyptians out of Gaza in 1967, occupying territory assigned to the future Jewish state by international treaty, ratified by the League of Nations and confirmed in the charter of the United Nations.

Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza should have been proclaimed at the time, with a special status for the territories, just as the US, after acquiring new territory by purchase, diplomacy or war, would organize it as territories, applying US federal law until such time as statehood was granted (in the case of Alaska, after more than a century as a territory). Instead, The West Bank and Gaza were left in a state of limbo, subject to the ebbs and flows of regional and world politics.

The two-state concept, if ever implemented, would simply have involved Israel giving up, voluntarily, part of its territory. Whether that would have been wise or stupid is another question. Should Israel extend its civil administration to 30% of Samaria and Judea it would be implicitly declaring that it has no right to the other 70%.

That would be both wrong and stupid, along with the incredible blunder of leaving the Temple Mount, the beating heart of the Jewish nation and religion, to be administered by the same country that had illegally occupied it, in 1967.

The only territory that Israel ever annexed is the Golan Heights, taken from Syria after that country attacked Israel. The Golan Heights were not part of the British Mandate and thus not part of the territory promised to the Jewish state. Israel offered several times to return the Golan to Syria as a quid pro quo for Syrian diplomatic recognition of Israel, but to no avail. Too bad for Syria.

To repeat, Israel will not annex any part of the West Bank because it cannot. Whether extending Israeli civil law to 30% or some other percentage of the territory is or is not a good idea is another question. Largely because of its own counterproductive public diplomacy, such an action will result in severely negative reactions on the part of much of the world and a setback of questionable magnitude in the improvement of relations with the Gulf Arab world, as well as a security nightmare that the police and the IDF have been desperately warning against. A minimal application of Israeli civil law with no promise of a "Palestinian" state in return would probably result in a less- serious response.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was unnecessary. Under the terms of the Trump "deal", Israel could have said "OK, when we see progress in the Palestinian fulfillment of their requirements to qualify for sovereignty, we will apply our sovereignty to the rest", in the meantime maintaining the effective security arrangements as they were.

Or, in the immortal (and ungrammatical) saying: "If if ain't broke, don't fix it."

Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute,  and adjunct professor at the Institute of Worlld Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on June 18, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

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