יפעת ארליך
Yifat Erlich
Photo: Baruch Greenberg
The West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar

Israel must not miss this annexation opportunity

Opinion: The Trump administration has presented Jerusalem with an historic opening to break away from a policy of passivity and initiate a move that would benefit the entire country as well as the residents of the West Bank settlements

Yifat Erlich |
Published: 07.01.20 , 23:55
The reality of Jews living in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) has for decades been a dichotomy.
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  • On the one hand, the state built Jewish settlements throughout the area, and on the other, residents of these communities, their children and grandchildren, live under military rule.
    The West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar  The West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar
    The West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The dream of a peaceful resolution with our neighbors evaporated with the smoke emanating from exploding buses during the post-Oslo Palestinian terror campaign.
    Israelis came to realize that there would likely never be a Palestinian leadership brave enough to grant the concessions necessary to make peace.
    At the same time, the one-sided withdrawal from the Gaza Strip only facilitated a Hamas-led regime, resulting in years of rocket attacks from the enclave onto Israeli communities.
    With no productive negotiations taking place, Israeli governments chose to leave things in the West Bank as they were, with the Jewish population stuck as an anomaly.
    Over time and with the vacuum left by Israel's lack of clear policy, the Palestinians, with the support of the EU, have begun to illegally usurp parts of Area C - resulting in serious environmental damage to the area instead of seeing it flourish under Israeli rule.
    הבית הלבןהבית הלבן
    Benjamin Netanyahu clasps hands with Donald Trump as the U.S. president unveils his Mideast peace plan at the White House
    (Photo: EPA)
    U.S. President Donald Trump's administration presented Israel with an historic opportunity to break away from its policy of passivity and initiate a move that would benefit the entire country as well as the residents of the West Bank.
    There is no likely scenario that would see the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of settlers from their homes. Hundreds of Jewish communities all along the West Bank are there to stay.
    But there is also a need to replace the military rule under which settlers are forced to live with the unapologetic extension of state sovereignty.
    Pragmatists on the political left and right must surely agree to the extension of Israeli sovereignty at least over the settlements.
    An Israeli settlement in the West BankAn Israeli settlement in the West Bank
    An Israeli settlement in the West Bank
    (Photo: EPA)
    Unfortunately, the Trump peace plan has been opposed by both sides of the political divide.
    Some see annexation as the end of the Zionist dream that will ultimately bring about a one-state solution that either lacks a Jewish majority or else becomes an apartheid state that stops its Palestinian residents from enjoying equal rights of their Jewish neighbors.
    I fail to see how including several thousand Palestinians living in Area C to Israel's population would lead to either scenario.
    Right-wing opponents of the move wing worry that by accepting Trump's peace plan, Israel would be opening the door to an eventual Palestinian state on parts of the West Bank.
    This position is similar to those who in 1947 refused to accept the UN Partition Plan because the proposed borders of Israel did not include areas of the biblical homeland they envisioned as part of the rebirth of their nation.
    Impromptu street celebrations in Jerusalem after Israel declared independence in 1948 Impromptu street celebrations in Jerusalem after Israel declared independence in 1948
    Impromptu street celebrations in Jerusalem after Israel declared independence in 1948
    (Photo: Archive)
    But pragmatism prevailed back then and the Partition Plan was accepted by leaders of the emerging Jewish state - to the joy of its population. The Palestinian leadership of the time rejected the UN proposal and chose the path of war.
    Israel since has become a flourishing modern country and a regional power. A Palestinian state on the other hand has still not been established and the leaders of the Palestinian people are being seen for what they are - corrupt and inept.
    July 1 should have been a day of celebration equal to the reception to the UN vote on the creation of our state. It should have been a day to celebrate Israel's sovereignty over major parts of Judea and Samaria and the advancement of the Zionist dream.
    There should have been singing and dancing in the street.
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