As part of President Donald Trump’s “Deal of The Century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel has the right to annex parts of Judea and Samaria. This raises strong opposition not only among the Palestinians, Iran and their allies, but also among European countries threatening that such a step will have serious consequences and is in violation of international law.
So before explaining what annexation is and why it is imperative, it is important to emphasize a few things: France and the United Kingdom are vocal opponents of the agreement. The United Kingdom, which controls 17 territories, spread over thousands of miles across the globe, is criticising a territorial process in which there is a deep connection between a country and its citizens. France maintains control over 13 colonies thousands of miles away and even uses some of them for nuclear experiments, yet opposes our connection to our historical homeland. Not only that, Turkey illegally invaded and took over Northern Cyprus but threatens Israel over the mere potential of Israeli sovereignty. All of them claim that for Israel “it is not the same”. In fact, they are right – it is not the same.
At the post-World War San Remo conference, the British Mandate on Israel – including Judea and Samaria – was approved. The conference voted to include the Balfour Declaration and to impose on Britain, as the Mandatory Power, the responsibility of implementing the Declaration. In its decision to deliver the mandate, it was stated: “The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” In other words, the argument that Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria is violation of international law is unsubstantiated. Importantly, prior to the Israeli War of Independence, Jewish settlers lived in Judea and Samaria, but were massacred or forced to leave by Arab Palestinians.
In addition, the 1948 UN resolution decided to establish two states in Palestine – one Jewish and one Arab. As usual, the Jews accepted the decision, the Arabs rejected it – threatening to exterminate the Jews. While they lost the war, Jordan and Egypt took over the territories originally intended for an Arab State. A Palestinian State never came into existence. Jordan and Egypt subsequently sought to destroy Israel, and in the Six Day War (1967), they lost those territories to Israel. This resulted in the liberation of Judea and Samaria and the unification of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, Israel did not conquer these territories from Palestinians but rather from foreign entities after a defensive war, so the word annexation is inaccurate. Judea and Samaria are historical homelands, so Israel applies sovereignty over parts of them.
The conflict between the two sides is indeed complex. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, which divided Judea and Samaria into three parts: Area A under full Palestinian control, Area B under joint control and Area C under full Israeli control. Israeli Law did not apply to more than 400,000 Israelis. In the past, the “land for peace” formula meant as follows: Israel vacates territories in exchange for peace with the Palestinians. Israel’s disengagement from Gaza demonstrates this is not the case. Israel uprooted more than 8,000 Jews from their homes only to receive rockets and attacks in return. The other side did not extend an olive branch – they voted in a terrorist organisation as their government and proceeded to bombard Israelis with thousands of rockets. This equation has become untenable because it does not work.
The paradigm has changed: the removal of a Jew or an Arab from his home is not acceptable, but the opposite is true. The word “transfer” that was previously used in the area as an existing reality has completely lost its meaning and that is a positive step. Given this fact, a creative solution to an impossible reality is needed. It comes in the form of applying Israeli sovereignty to areas where Israelis live in Judea and Samaria so they can receive equal rights within the State of Israel. Palestinian civilians will continue to live under the Palestinian Authority. Within four years, the “Deal of the Century” allows the Palestinians to negotiate and reach self-determination.
Opponents of applying Israeli sovereignty are destroying a real opportunity for peace. After years of no negotiations between the two sides, we can go back to the negotiating table. Each time the Palestinian leadership rejected a peace offer, they were left with less territory than what they were offered previously. Ultimately, they are refusing to resolve the conflict, opting for terrorism and violence. By repeating this pattern, they may be left with no territory at all.
“It’s crazy to repeat the same action over and over again and expect a different result,” Albert Einstein said. The Palestinians and the international community do not seem to want to learn from history and certainly not to learn from Einstein.