Benjamin Netanyahu has presided over Israel as its prime minister for over a decade now. The right-wing parties have been in power for several decades, and lo and behold, not one soul from the right has ever thought about annexing the Jordan Valley, up until now that is.
This shifted a few days before the second round of elections took place in September. During a weirdly timed press conference, Netanyahu got up on stage, and suddenly declared his intentions to annex the Jordan valley.
Mere days before the elections and Netanyahu suddenly remembers to annex the Valley? It was obviously nothing more then an election stunt orchestrated by the prime minister.
I doubt the influx of the centrist vote away from Likud has anything to do with the prime minister's recent legal woes, but rather with Netanyahu's long-standing right-wing propensities.
Netanyahu insists on proving that a nationalist-right government isn't only a slogan of his, but a very real possible government he intends to lead.
Point in case, Smotrich wants to annex the Valley? Netanyahu takes action to make it happen and announcing the intent to annex the Valley is a sort of action after all.
It's been months and nothing ever materialized, why? Since annexing the Valley would be very bad for Israel.
So far, Israel could have claimed its control of the West Bank was only temporary. After all, Israel offered the Palestinians more and more incentives in exchange for peace.
These incentives include the formation of a Palestinian state on 95% of the disputed territories, and when taking into account territory exchange, they would have gotten 100% of said territories.
Israel suggested to divide Jerusalem between the two states, but the Palestinians have repeatedly said "no".
That same ever-present "no" gave Israel all the justifications it ever needed to continue its rule of the West Bank.
Netanyahu figured very quickly why none of his predecessors had ever tried to annex the Jordan Valley - annexation would shift the blame for the territory's complicated situation from the Palestinians, who repeatedly denied our past peace offerings, to Israel.
What we're seeing now is a new Netanyahu - one that is more concerned about his own well-being than that of Israel. He thought that pandering to the right, while trampling national interests, would scrape a couple of extra ballots for the right-wing bloc. Well, the opposite happened.
Those same Israelis constituting the centrist-bloc are not far-right, nor are they far-left. They understand what serves Israel's interests, they know that no one is disputing Israel's rule of the Valley. They understand that when Netanyahu turns into a "Smotrich", disregarding national interest, he should no longer be supported.
Smotrich (the real one, mind you) has shown up with another "new initiative" - He intends on taking advantage of the coming Knesset plenum centering Netanyahu's bid for parliamentary immunity from prosecution in three graft cases and use it to further the annexation of the Valley.
It's obviously a political stunt, and even though Netanyahu knows it’s a bad decision, he'll damn Israel as long as he gets the chance to humiliate Blue & White.
Speaking of Blue & White, it turns out that the nationalist-right government's main opposing party is walking into the same political trap, with its eyes wide open.
Why does Gantz need to announce his support for the Valley's annexation? Why does he has to partake in this kerfuffle?
Blue & White co-leader Yair Lapid has clarified that his party will not support a unilateral annexation or Smotrich and his delusional proposals. He would only support annexation as part of a political agreement.
Blue & White's leaders have a few days to pull themselves together after their noticeable display of confusion. There's no need to enter the trap Smotrich set. There's no need to walk in Netanyahu's footsteps. There's a need for a clear and decisive "no" to the annexation of the Jordan Valley.
The right understood this years ago - Gantz's penny should also drop soon.