The likes of J Street and Peace Now pretend that annexation is a scheme cooked up by messianic settlers, but it was invented by Labor.
By Stephen M. Flatow, INN
In the aftermath of the Six Day War, the most prominent Israeli leader urging annexation of the Jordan Valley was, believe it or not, one of the leaders of the Israeli Left. It’s worth recalling his words of wisdom in these days of heated debate over possible Israeli government steps regarding that region.
The annexationist in question was Yigal Allon, who in the 1960s served as Minister of Labor for the ruling socialist Labor Party. Later he became foreign minister and was a leading candidate to become head of Labor.
In the aftermath of the Six Day War, Allon drew up his plan for the future disposition of the Judea-Samaria-Gaza territories. “In order to assure a strong defensive deployment and the strategic integrity of Israel,” Allon wrote, large portions of the territories “will be joined to Israel as an integral part of the state.”
First and foremost, the Jordan Valley—the largest area that the current Israeli government is now considering incorporating into the rest of Israel, but which the Arabs and the current Israeli Left are hysterically denouncing.
“I propose that the Jordan River and the line cutting through the middle of the Dead Sea be set as Israel’s borderline with the Kingdom of Jordan, even unilaterally,” he wrote. “In order for there to be a real border, I believe that a 10-15 kilometer-wide strip [7-9 miles] should be connected to Israel along the Jordan Rift Valley until the Dead Sea.”
He continued: “The western border of the Jordan Rift Valley strip should be close to a string of appropriate topographical outposts, while everything possible should be done so as not to include in it a substantial Arab population. And indeed, the population of the Jordan Rift Valley is very small, and it is possible to mark out a reasonable border that would separate Israeli territory and the Arab enclave.”
Elsewhere in the plan, Allon also proposed annexing all of Jerusalem, the Gush Etzion bloc, and other areas.
The Allon Plan was presented to the cabinet and discussed at length in two cabinet sessions, on July 13 and July 26, 1967. It was adopted by the Israeli government and became the official policy of the leftwing Labor Party.
The Oslo accords, which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed in 1993, were consistent with the Allon Plan. Rabin said time and again that he would keep the Jordan Valley, Gush Etzion, Jerusalem and other areas within Yehuda and the Shomron, while allowing Palestinian Arab self-rule in other parts of the territories.
Today, the Labor Party is a partner in the Israeli government coalition, alongside Likud, Blue-White, and others. Although Labor has shrunk in size and influence over the years, its stalwarts can feel pride that the Allon Plan annexations that they always favored now may finally become reality.
All of which must be terribly frustrating for the likes of J Street and Peace Now. They want to pretend that annexation—or, more accurately, reunification—is a scheme cooked up by messianic settlers and rightwing Greater Israel expansionists. In fact, it was invented by Labor, promoted for decades by Labor, and is now on the verge of implementation by a government of which Labor is a part.
There is a broad national consensus in Israel in favor of reunification today for the exact same reasons that Labor has favored it all these years: those territories are vital for Israel’s defense, they are part of the historic Land of Israel, and, as Allon noted, they are devoid of any “substantial Arab population.”
Reunification does not pose any demographic danger to Israel. That’s because more than 98% of the Palestinian Arabs live in areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Reunification will not affect them or their status.
Pay no mind to the shrieking editorials in the New York Times or the toothless press releases churned out by Jewish Voice for Peace. They are thrashing about in agony over reunification precisely because their arguments are hollow, and the tide of history has turned against them. The Jewish consensus in support of reunification, so ably articulated by Yigal Allon and his colleagues on the Israeli left sixty years ago, still holds.
Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” is now available on Kindle.