Israel’s reckless politics of annexation

T. Belman. It is obvious that the author is trying to derail the Trump train. He doesn’t want the Deal of the Century to be embraced no matter how good it is for Israel. In effect he and JPOST represent the globalist view. They don’t want the conflict to be over and they don’t want Israel to win or be strong. Trump wants both.

Ehud Olmert is another one. He writes Do not annex the Jordan Valley

Not only will the annexation of the Jordan Valley potentially lead to cutting off security coordination with the Palestinians, but it could also lead to a total collapse in relations with Jordan.

By Yaakov Katz JPOST  JANUARY 24, 2020

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (L) and MK Moshe Ya'alon are seen at a press conference. (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (L) and MK Moshe Ya’alon are seen at a press conference. (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)<

What does Israel want?

That is always the most important question but also the one that is so difficult to answer.

The question appeared in sharp focus this week as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz battled over who is more right wing, and who is more committed to annexing the Jordan Valley, before, during or after the upcoming election.

It was a clear lesson in how policy should not be set, how a country should not make decisions on strategic and fateful issues such as what its borders will be, how it will determine them, and whether it will be done unilaterally or within the framework of an internationally recognized peace deal.

It started on Tuesday when Gantz went to the Jordan Valley with Moshe Ya’alon, No. 3 on his list and his former commander in the IDF. There, overlooking the border, Gantz announced that Blue and White would work to annex the Jordan Valley after the election. He added two caveats: that the application of Israeli law would be done in a “nationally agreed upon process,” and in “coordination with the international community.”

It was a sharp right-turn for Gantz. Before the previous election, in September, Gantz refrained from declaring that he would annex the Jordan Valley, merely sticking to a script that the Jordan Valley is “part of Israel forever.” He said this after Netanyahu held a press conference just days before the September vote, vowing to annex the Jordan Valley after the election if he won.

In response to Gantz’s announcement this week, Netanyahu attacked the Blue and White leader, asking him on Twitter why he doesn’t agree to annexation immediately. “Why wait until after the election if we can apply sovereignty now with wide national consensus in the Knesset?” Netanyahu wrote. “Benny Gantz, I expect your answer by the evening.”

Does Netanyahu think Israelis are fools? Ahead of the September vote he said that his plan was to annex the Jordan Valley after the election. Not before, after. There are videos of him saying it. Now that Gantz caught up to him on the Right, Netanyahu has to move even further Right, saying that it can be done immediately.

Gantz did not remain silent and challenged Netanyahu. “Here’s a tip: You can apply Israeli law over the Jordan Valley with a cabinet decision within two hours and without a debate in the Knesset,” he wrote back to the prime minister on Twitter on Tuesday. “Let’s see you do it.”

Confused? You should be. The reason is because this is not the way a responsible government enacts a policy with far-reaching consequences for Israel and potentially the entire Middle East.

Not only will the annexation of the Jordan Valley potentially lead to cutting off security coordination with the Palestinians, but it could also lead to a total collapse in Israel’s relations with King Abdullah, whose regime’s stability is of utmost strategic importance for the Jewish state.

At the same visit to the Jordan Valley on Tuesday, Gantz was asked about the Trump peace plan, dubbed the “Deal of the Century,” which seems to be headed for a rollout next week. “I hope President Trump will hurry and release his plan,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the plan’s release.”

What? Did we hear correctly? Gantz is looking forward to the plan coming out soon? Just two weeks ago, Gantz said that releasing the plan before the election would be a “gross intervention” in Israel’s democratic electoral process. He said it in private meetings and then repeated it at a Blue and White faction meeting.

THE REASON Gantz did not want the plan to come out before the election was quite obvious. He knows that the plan is going to be favorable for Israel – it is expected to declare, for example, that all settlements remain Israeli territory – and that Netanyahu will then use its unveiling as part of his campaign to explain to the electorate why they need him to remain in office.

As it is, Gantz is suspicious of the Trump administration and the way it has bear-hugged Netanyahu over the last three years. Yair Lapid, his Blue and White co-leader, has said that one of the first decisions he would make as foreign minister would be to replace Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.

What happened that Gantz zigzagged? Why is he suddenly in favor of annexation and of releasing the peace plan before March 2?

The answer seems to be a mix. It is possible that Gantz changed his mind about the plan and understands that it truly is in Israel’s interest. After making his first “gross interference” comment, he met with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Trump’s peace envoy, Avi Berkowitz.

It’s possible that both men updated Gantz about the plan and what it means for Israel. Gantz is not the typical politician. It could very well be that he saw the strategic benefit for Israel and understood that it transcended politics.

What is more likely to have happened is that Gantz understood that the plan is coming whether he wants it or not, and that when it is revealed it would be politically beneficial to be in favor of it than in opposition.

The reason is simple: Gantz is trying in the five weeks left until Election Day to steal away as many right-wing votes as he can, either from Likud or from Naftali Bennett. His path to do that is to turn Blue and White to the Right.

The thinking behind this is that if Gantz can pull two to three seats away from Netanyahu and Bennett, he can potentially win the election. After the September vote, Netanyahu succeeded in blocking Gantz from forming a coalition due to his bloc of 55 seats against Gantz’s 52. If Gantz has 55 after March 2 and Netanyahu 52, it’s a different ballgame.

What are his chances? Unclear. Netanyahu is doing an effective job at branding Blue and White as left wing and tightening the ranks of his voters. On the other hand, there are traditional Likud voters who favor change and believe that Netanyahu’s time has come, mostly due to the indictments he is facing on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Those voters might have moved to Bennett, but after he joined up with religious radicals Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich, those voters might be looking for a new political home. Will they go to Blue and White? Maybe. Avigdor Liberman is another option.

In the end, though, what really counts is this: In 1967, Israel conquered the Jordan Valley and the rest of the West Bank. For 53 years – whether right or wrong – it refrained from unilaterally setting its borders. To do so now, in the middle of an election campaign, is not serious and undermines the move itself by politicizing it.

Setting permanent borders needs to be done by an elected government given the mandate of the people. Let’s get one and then make decisions that change Israel.

January 25, 2020 | 5 Comments » | 648 views

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. However much some people deny it, the JP editors, especially Yaakov Katz, are strong supporters of appeasement of the Arabs, support participation of the anti-Zionist Arab parties in Israel’s government, hate Bibi Netanyahu, hate Trump, and for all these reasons support Benny Gantz’s candidacy.

  2. Jerusalem Post Opinion
    Our miss within the ‘Deal of the Century’

    Did Trump come with an ideology that seemed at times to be aligned with the Israeli Right? Possibly. But that did not detract from his primary agenda that is an interest for all of Israel.

    By JPOST EDITORIAL JANUARY 25, 2020 20:08

    We don’t know yet the exact details of the peace plan that US President Donald Trump will release this week. But we do know this – the “Deal of the Century,” which his administration has been laboring over for the last three years, will be the most favorable plan for the State of Israel for how to end what has seemed like an intractable conflict with the Palestinians.

    Ever since he was appointed to his role as US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman has had one clear agenda – how to strengthen Israeli-US relations and help Israel achieve and maintain security and stability in a volatile region.

    Did he come with an ideology that seemed at times to be aligned with the Israeli Right? Possibly. But that did not detract from his primary agenda that is an interest for all of Israel.
    That agenda is what led to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, to the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, to the declaration that Israeli settlements are not illegal and much more.
    It has all been motivated by the same desire – how to help Israel and advance its standing in the volatile Middle East. Yes, there were also other interests at play – Trump enjoys support from the right-wing Evangelical community as well as financial backing from donors like pro-Israel casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
    Moving the embassy might have been enough for all of them. Everything else stems from a real desire to help make the Middle East safer, and Friedman has been one of the real catalysts behind it.

    But here is the problem – Israel cannot get its act together. For the last year, the administration has been waiting to roll out its long-awaited peace plan, expected to call for Jerusalem to remain undivided, for the settlements to remain part of Israel, and for Israel to be able to annex the Jordan Valley if and when the Palestinians refuse to come to the negotiating table.

    The problem though is that no matter what happens now and no matter how positive the plan might be for Israel, it is impossible to disconnect it from the ongoing political situation here.
    Everything that happens now will be viewed through a political prism. It might be a favorable plan but Netanyahu will be thinking about how it will help him stay in power and avoid a trial, Benny Gantz will be thinking how it helps Netanyahu and hurts him, Naftali Bennett will use it to attack Netanyahu from the Right and on and on.

    This is an unfortunate state of affairs. Here, we have an administration that clearly wants to help Israel, but the state cannot find a way to let itself be helped because of the ongoing political paralysis.

    Whatever happens in Washington next week, Israel will have to not only say thank you to the Trump administration but also to apologize.
    It will need to say sorry for not being stable enough to work with on matters of joint strategic importance.

    Full JPost editoral at https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Our-miss-615340

  3. Our miss within the ‘Deal of the Century’

    Did Trump come with an ideology that seemed at times to be aligned with the Israeli Right? Possibly. But that did not detract from his primary agenda that is an interest for all of Israel.
    By JPOST EDITORIAL JANUARY 25, 2020 20:08

    We don’t know yet the exact details of the peace plan that US President Donald Trump will release this week. But we do know this – the “Deal of the Century,” which his administration has been laboring over for the last three years, will be the most favorable plan for the State of Israel for how to end what has seemed like an intractable conflict with the Palestinians.

    Ever since he was appointed to his role as US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman has had one clear agenda – how to strengthen Israeli-US relations and help Israel achieve and maintain security and stability in a volatile region.

    Trump agenda described in Jpost editorial:

    That agenda is what led to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, to the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, to the declaration that Israeli settlements are not illegal and much more.
    It has all been motivated by the same desire – how to help Israel and advance its standing in the volatile Middle East. Yes, there were also other interests at play – Trump enjoys support from the right-wing Evangelical community as well as financial backing from donors like pro-Israel casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
    Moving the embassy might have been enough for all of them. Everything else stems from a real desire to help make the Middle East safer, and Friedman has been one of the real catalysts behind it.

    Full JPost editorial found at https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Our-miss-615340

  4. Ted, Actually if you read the JPost editorial linked, you will see you are misunderstanding the article. JPost and its editor, Katz, realize that Trumps plan will be the most pro Israel plan ever and the Trump administrations goal is to help Israel. The above article is simply about the cynical use by both Bibi and Gantz about sovereignty electioneering bullshit.

    Our miss within the ‘Deal of the Century’
    Did Trump come with an ideology that seemed at times to be aligned with the Israeli Right? Possibly. But that did not detract from his primary agenda that is an interest for all of Israel.
    By JPOST EDITORIAL JANUARY 25, 2020 20:08

  5. One has to admire the observant Caroline Glick for knowing when it was time to jump “Ship JP”.
    It is part of the same attribute which allows her to continue writing great articles.
    Israel Hayom was a good place to land, for now.
    I hope when Naftali Bennet becomes PM, he will consider offering appointment to Glick at an appropriate Ministry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*