The diversity of reactions to Netanyahu’s planned formal annexation all West Bank settlements have been fascinating. While disinterested parties, such as the EU, have generally been opposed to the proposal, not all Zionists favor it and not all Palestinians think it means a whole lot.
Christian Zionists love it for the same reasons some pragmatic Zionists hate it: because it will bring closer a horrible war that the Christian fundamentalists think is the fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy of an Armageddon in which non-converting Jews are killed. Dennis Ross andÂ David Makovsky are concerned that the Netanyahu’s rashness will alienate the Arab states undoing “recent seismic shift that has taken place in Arab attitudes about Israel. Many of the regionâ€™s leaders now believe that, if the United States retreats from the Mideast, Israel is not only a necessary bulwark against the threats Arab states face but also a potentially useful ally. Unfortunately, the willingness of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push annexation for his near-term political benefit could damage the emerging alignment between Israel and the Arab states. Arab leaders certainly wonâ€™t want to look as though they are even indirectly helping Israel take what they consider to be Palestinian territory.”
Naturally, anti-Zionist Jews such as Jewish Voice for Peace are alarmed that Israel’s de facto annexation is now to be practiced as in-your-face de jure Jewish supremacy. Not only are signs being raised that certain areas are off limits to Palestinians, but signs signifying areas under the Palestinian authority are coming down.
Also skeptical are pro-peace Zionists like J-Street (which bills itself as “the political home of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans”). For them, annexation “would fundamentally betray the vision and democratic principles of Israelâ€™s founders, severely imperil the US-Israel relationship and make it nearly impossible to maintain broad support for Israel in the US.”
The pragmatists and the peace-lovers are joined by even such a self-described “ardent Zionist” as Robert Satloff, for whom annexation “abandons a relatively secure and surprisingly durable status quo for no real reason. If the U.S. and Israeli governments canâ€™t convince even me of the logic here, there is no hope they will convince others that annexation is anything but a domestic political maneuver fueled by the growing electoral power of Israelâ€™s ideologically motivated settlement movement, devoid of strategic rationale.”
The Palestinians too are divided in the same ways. For some it crosses a red line and for others it is just Israel’s admission to the world that yes, all the accusations of brutality, apartheid, and colonization are true. For the latter group annexation is a step in the right direction that brings the insidious infection into the sunlight where international opinion shall finally have an opportunity to resolve to treat it.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute