by Ayman Ahmed (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 49, No. 4, Shawwal, 1441)
With the exception of the US, most of the rest of the world has reacted negatively to the Zionist regime’s plans to usurp more Palestinian lands. Announced on May 15 just before Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister and his rival Benny Gantz sworn in as “alternate” prime minister—whatever that means—he was all sweet talk and reasonableness. He claimed he was doing it for “peace”. What kind of peace did Netanyahu have in mind? He made clear during the election campaign that he would usurp more Palestinian lands in the West Bank including the whole of Jerusalem (more on this later). Does forcibly taking someone else’s land constitute peace?
The European Union Foreign Policy chief Josef Morrell said the bloc won’t accept ‘any changes to 1967 borders’ unless agreed to in a deal with Palestinians. France was equally adamant. “Unilateral measures by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley will have consequences for its relations with the European Union,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on May 19. A similar warning was issued by King Abdullah II of Jordan who said it could jeopardize the kingdom’s peace treaty with Israel and lead to conflict in the region. “The experts in the defense establishment believe that under extreme circumstances domestic pressures might even lead the king to cancel the peace treaty with Israel,” according to the Israeli daily, Ha‘aretz.
Netanyahu, however, will proceed with his annexation plan because he has the backing of US President Donald Trump. He also knows that European protestations without action carry little weight. Professor Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, alluded to this very fact in an interview with Press TV on May 14. “Resolutions without resolve, and criticisms without consequences, are a small price that Israel will happily pay if it means its trade, investment and status with Europe, North America and Asia will continue on as before. In a comment that aptly applies to the wider world, the former European Union Special Representative for the Middle East, Miguel Moratinos, stated in 2010 with regard to the Israeli occupation: ‘We Europeans excel at declarations. It is compensation for our scarcity of action’.”
While warning of the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s annexation plan, Professor Lynk said, “The looming annexation is a political litmus test for the international community. This annexation will not be reversed through rebukes, nor will the 53-year-old occupation die of old age.”
The UN Special Rapporteur also outlined the repercussions of annexation as creating “a cascade of bad human rights consequences” and that the international community could no longer play its acquiescent role to Israeli violations. He said, “The United Nations has stated that the Israeli settlements are the source of profound human rights and humanitarian law violations against the protected Palestinian population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Presently, Israel has de facto annexed significant parts of the West Bank, and the adverse human rights consequences are obvious.
“These consequences include land confiscation and alienation, settler violence, discriminatory planning laws, the appropriation of natural resources, home demolitions, forcible population transfer, labor exploitation, forced evictions and displacement, discriminatory law enforcement, the imposition of a two-tiered system of unequal political, social and economic rights based on ethnicity and, above all, the denial of the right to self-determination.”
“This would only get worse under a de jure formal annexation. The Trump plan proposal for Israel annexation would result in a Palestinian Bantustan, which would be scattered archipelagos of non-contiguous territory completely surrounded by Israel, with no external borders, no control over its airspace, no right to the military to defend its security, no geographic basis for a viable economy, no freedom of movement and with no ability to complain to international judicial forums against Israel or the United States,” Professor Lynk stated.
Palestinian refugees that now number more than five million, must forget the “right of return” as enshrined in United Nations resolution 194. A subsequent UN Resolution 273 that admitted Israel as member of the United Nations on May 11, 1949 was predicated on its pledge to implement resolution 194 (relating to the return of refugees to their homes). By refusing to allow Palestinian refugees to return, Israel is in breach of its UN membership credentials and its presence in the international body is, therefore, illegal. It should be barred from its deliberations until it complies with its obligations.
The 600,000 Zionist settlers on the West Bank, deemed illegal and in violation of international law by the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of 2016, will not vacate their illegal settlements created on prime Palestinian lands. The settlements will be incorporated into Israel. The heavily-armed Zionist settlers will be protected by the even more heavily-armed Israeli occupation army that will be deployed around the settlements (The Palestinians, it should be noted, must remain unarmed!).
The annexation plan is based on what Trump announced at a White House ceremony on January 28, 2020 with a beaming Netanyahu at his side. His Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner, a close family friend of Netanyahu and with deep financial ties to Israel, was tasked with preparing the plan. He claimed to have consulted everyone for three years, everyone that is except the Palestinians. The so-called deal of the century is the fulfilment of Netanyahu’s wildest dreams.
Pompously titled, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”, its main purpose is to ensure no viable Palestinian state emerges. The so-called ‘deal of the century’ calls for Palestinians to surrender and accept their status as permanently subjugated people living in Zionist controlled Bantustans.
The ‘governing authority’ of these Bantustans will be prohibited from having any heavy weapons and must fight “terrorist” groups (designated by Israel and the US, of course!). And Hamas, the democratically elected representatives of the people, must be banished from Gaza.
The disjointed cantons will be linked with each through underground tunnels, bridges or roads that Israel can cut off at any time. The Palestinian authority will have no presence much less control over Jerusalem, not even over the Aqsa Compound that houses both the Masjid al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. The Palestinians residing there will be expelled and settled in the new enclaves. Palestinians must establish their capital in Abu Dis, outside Jerusalem and as a sop to their injured pride, they can call it ‘Jerusalem’, if they like. How touching!
Three days before the Palestinians and their friends and supporters commemorated the Nakba day (meaning catastrophe or calamity), that falls on May 15, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dropped by in Tel Aviv on May 12. His mission? To give the greenlight to Israel’s to annex large parts of the West Bank including Jerusalem, declaring that “it is a matter for the Israelis to determine on their own.” Professor Emeritus Richard Falk, himself Jewish, dubbed Israel’s annexation plan as “gangster politics”. He pointed to the brazenness of Israel’s move saying “as if neither Palestinians nor international law had any relevance” in usurping Palestinian lands.
Zionist Israel has never needed any encouragement for land grab and ethnic cleansing. Its entire history is replete with such illegal actions, based on the colonial mindset of complete disregard for the rights of the indigenous people, in this case the Palestinians. They are considered non-persons, unworthy of respect, dignity or even the right to live.
More than seven decades of land grab and ethnic cleansing is to be capped by another move whereby the Zionist regime will annex more Palestinian lands in the West Bank. This is in total violation of international law and numerous Security Council resolutions but neither Israel nor its patron saint and underwriter, the US, has been constrained by legal niceties, even those enshrined in Western-crafted international law and conventions.
Facing fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges, Netanyahu is clinging to power by the skin of his teeth. He hopes his landgrab policy will win him reprieve. He also found in Trump the most pro-Israeli politician in the White House. Trump has his own reasons for being so rabidly pro-Israel, including his desperate bid for re-election in November. He is relying on the Israeli lobby to get him back into the White House.
Two political desperados are trying to cling to power by inflicting more suffering on the Palestinians. Only determined effort by civil society groups worldwide can prevent another catastrophe from being inflicted on the hapless Palestinian people.