Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent election victory, his comments alluding to the annexation of Israeli West Bank settlements are more pressing now than ever. The possibility that Israeli law will be extended to the settlements, home to 400,000 Israelis but deemed illegal by almost all interpretations of international law, is very real.
As is typical in Israeli politics after an election, in the following days or even weeks Netanyahu will engage in a mammoth coalition building exercise. Netanyahu will play a four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle where the pieces argue back. His aim will be to cobble together smaller parties such as the religious Shas and United Torah Judaism and the radical right-wing United Right into Netanyahu’s Likud led coalition government.
In order to see through this process effectively, Netanyahu will no doubt offer cabinet and ministerial posts to leading cadres of these smaller parties. However, they will also seek assurances from Netanyahu that their policy goals will be if not implemented then at least put on the agenda.
This is why Netanyahu’s irresponsible announcement about settlements will not go away. Netanyahu’s words were music to the ears of ideologically inclined members of Netanyahu’s own Likud as well as the United Right whose 5 Knesset seats make them the guarantor of Netanyahu’s coalition. In return for joining Netanyahu’s government and supporting his attempt to make himself immune to indictments over corruption pertaining to no less than three different cases by legislating the so-called French Law which would prevent a sitting prime minister form being prosecuted, such parties might seek to press Netanyahu on his settlement pledge, or at least push him to make it part of his policy agenda.
Add to the equation the Trump factor, the issue of settlement annexation is no mere election bluster. It is on the table.
Indeed, the unpredictability of the Trump administration and the possibility that the White House may actually support such a move is very real. Within just two years the administration reversed decades old US policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and recognising the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
It is worth briefly reminding ourselves what is at stake if Israel were to extend Israeli law to the West Bank settlements.
In Europe, North America and the West, the perception of Israel as an international pariah would move from the fringe of the debate about Israel’s future to the mainstream. The BDS movement would gain unprecedented support. There will not be a campus on Earth (except maybe Ariel University) where students will not seek divestment. Parliaments across the globe will be lobbied to reconsider political and economic ties with Israel. Many will even be successful.
Attempts to exclude Israel from international civil society would gain momentum and accusations that Israel is an apartheid state would gain legitimacy as notable statespersons, public intellectuals and politicians will also adopt the same rhetoric and corporations would think twice about doing business in Israel. The Jewish diaspora will be split and many Jews outside of Israel will not only feel alienated from Israel, but they also will publicly campaign against the Israeli government in unprecedented numbers. Anti-Semitism across the world will skyrocket.
Even US support for Israel will be hurt as the emerging left-right split over support for Israel will turn into a gaping wound. Israel’s ties with the Arab world including Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf, which Israel has to done well to forge strong strategic understandings, will be undermined. It might even represent one step too far for these countries even though they share a joint fear of Iranian influence.
Just as troubling, if not more so, the threat to the viability of the Palestinian state would lead to a third Palestinian intifada in the West Bank and another conflict against Hamas in Gaza. This would overturn the security that has won Netanyahu much political success.
Netanyahu knows how to win an election, but in order to win this one he has put the future of the state of Israel in a precarious position, a dereliction of the state that he is tasked to promote and protect. Watch this space, the settlement annexation issue is not going away.
All Afrin AKP Aksener Albayrak America Amnesty Antisemitism Anti-semitism Anti-Zionism Argentina Arms Assad Autocracy Ayatollah Bogazici University Brand Branding Brexit Britain Brunson Charisma Chile CHP Christianity Constitution Corbyn Demirtas Democracy Diplomacy Diversity Douglas Murray Economy Election Elections Empire Erbakan Erbil Erdogan EU Europe Evevit F35 Finance Foreign Policy Foreign Policy Center Gaza Geneva Convention Germany Gulen Hamas Hard Power HDP House Of Commons IAEA Identity IMF Immigration Ince International Law Iran Iraq Islam Islamic Republic Islamism Israel Istanbul Italy Iyi JCPOA Jerusalem Joint Strike Fighter Kalicdaroglu Kemal Dervis Khashoggi Khomeini KRG Kurdistan Kurds Lawfare Left Liberal Magnitsky Marx MBS Meretz MHP Middle East Migrant Mogherini Mossad Multiculturalism NATO Neo-colonialism Neo Ottomanism Neo-Ottomanism Netanyahu Nuclear Obama Oil Ottoman Oxford P5+1 Palestine Peru PKK Politics Populism Putin PYD Qatar Queen Referendum Refugees Religion Robert College Rojava Rome Statute Russia S400 Sanctions Saudi Arabia Slogan Smart Power Soft Power South Park Soviet Union Strategy Sudan Syria Tamam Tehran Terrorism Transactionalism Trump Turkey Turkish UK United Kingdom United States UNRWA US Venezuela War On Terror Washington Weber Welfare West World Bank World Cup YPG Zionism