Recently we’ve been hearing voices in the rightist camp calling for annexation of Judea and Samaria to the State of Israel. The call for annexation in and of itself isn’t new. It’s been an old demand made by religious settlers. The Yesha Council’s constitutive document already called for annexation.
Yet what about the area’s residents? The document urged the government to “set the legal status of the Jews who permanently reside in Judea and Samaria as residents subjected to Israeli law, jurisdiction, and administration.” But what about the Arabs? That’s unclear. Yet based on the “yes,” we can figure out the “no” – citizenship will only be granted to Jews.
When the occupation was still new, they even tried to promote such bill at the Knesset, but only a handful of supporters could be found (including a young Knesset member called Ehud Olmert.) To all other MKs it was clear that such annexation would turn Israel from a democracy into official apartheid.
As this isn’t really an option, we saw the emergence of a fundamental vagueness within the camp referring to itself as “national.” It supported the settlement enterprise, but had no answer for the most important question prompted by the settlements: What should we do with Arab residents of the territories?
Late Prime Minister Levi Eshkol once said that the conquests of the Six-Day War can be likened to a wonderful wedding. The dowry is impressive yet the only problem, he said, is that we don’t want the bride.
The Golda and Rabin governments that followed Eshkol continued to stutter, and some more time passed before the leftist camp got it and started to object to the settlements. Yet this did not happen in the rightist camp. The Likud continued to endorse the settlement enterprise and praise the acquisition of land, yet just like the Yesha Council’s constitutive document, it kept silent in respect to the bride.
Hence, it was unclear what the Israeli Right wants: On the one hand, it engages in settlement activity, that is, it wishes to make Israel’s control in the territories permanent; yet on the other hand, it’s unwilling to forego democracy, and hence it does not annex the territories in practice, as not to grant citizenship to the bride.
The end of Zionism
Yet then came Moshe Arens, Tzipi Hotovely, Uri Elitzur, Reuven Rivlin and a few others, and decided to speak out honestly: We cannot take the dowry without the bride. Their conclusion: We must embrace the bride. Annex the area and grant Arab residents full citizenship. This way, both democracy and the wholeness of the land will be maintained. Only one small problem remained: Israel would become a bi-national state.
One needs to respect them for their honesty, because they uttered the truth which the Right had been trying to deny for a while now: The settlement enterprise is leading us to a bi-national state. That is, the Israeli Right is not precisely the so-called “national camp,” but rather, it is the “bi-national camp.” Even if this isn’t the intention, this shall be the result of the Right’s policy.
Hence, it was no surprise that the honesty displayed by Arens and his comrades did not quite sweep the Right. For the same reason, the radical Left, which demands one state for all the citizens between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, did not sweep the Zionist Left – any one-state solution will be bi-national and would ultimately lead to an Arab majority.
Zionism sought to create a situation whereby the Jews won’t be in the minority in one state in the world. Yet annexation of Judea and Samaria would ultimately turn the Jews into a minority in Israel too. This would constitute, if we borrow the haredi phrasing, Diaspora within the Land of Israel; the end of Zionism.
Any attempt to turn our hold on the territories into a permanent one would lead there. Hence, the settlement enterprise is the gravest danger faced by the Zionist enterprise. We can overcome all other problems, yet if we fail to extricate ourselves from the territories, they shall sink us in the sea of bi-nationalism.
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