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Israeli government votes to support annexing West Bank settlements

Whether or not the proposal becomes law, the vote itself broadcasts to the world that this government opposes a negotiated two-state solution.

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The Israeli government voted to endorse legislation to extend Israeli law to settlements in the West Bank on Sunday.

What would that mean, you ask? For 47 years, the primary source of law in the West Bank has been the IDF military law code. Applying civilian law to parts —or all — of the West Bank would be tantamount to annexation, or at least be a creeping but concrete step toward that goal.

Irrespective of whether or not this latest proposal is ever passed, the vote itself broadcasts to the entire world that the majority of ministers in the Israeli government support annexing West Bank settlements — a “unilateral move” if there ever was one.

In fact, even if the current version of the bill goes no further than it already has, it will have accomplished its authors’ goal: to move Israelis ever closer to stomaching the idea of annexation.

Events like the fall of the Berlin Wall are anomalies: most change happens gradually and it is often not even noticed until it’s too late. That is how the Israeli Right feels about the international and domestic support for Palestinian statehood these days, and that is how the Israeli Right plans to subvert that same idea. Baby steps. Facts on the ground.

File photo of MK Orit Struck speaking at a Knesset committee meeting, June 11, 2013. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

File photo of MK Orit Struck speaking at a Knesset committee meeting, June 11, 2013. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The bill’s author, Knesset member Orit Struck, herself a settler in the West Bank city of Hebron, explained to settler news outlet Arutz Sheva a few weeks ago how she and MK Yariv Levin have prepared 10 draft laws that would annex the West Bank in stages: first individual settlements, then Area C, and eventually, everything West of the Jordan River.

But Israel is not ready to stomach full annexation, Struck explained, “[w]e must aim towards something that the Israeli public, with its present situation, would be able to digest.”

“As of now, it is impossible to create such a basis of support for the idea of annexing the entire area including Ramallah, Nablus and more cities,” she added. “That’s why we must continue in what has been the Zionist way, which has always been a gradual path.”

It’s not really newsworthy that someone like MK Struck is attempting to advance plans to annex the West Bank, or even that she has a plan to do it subversively. After all, she was chosen to become a Knesset member by none other than settlement champion Naftali Bennett (he even ran for office on an annexation platform).

The separation wall being built in al-Walaja, December 7, 2010. Once completed, the wall will completely surround the village. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The separation wall being built in al-Walaja, December 7, 2010. Once completed, the wall will completely surround the village. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Struck it seems, like many other far-more-palatable Israeli politicians, views the current situation — sky rocketing nationalist and racist sentiments combined with the fear accompanying what many believe could be a looming, dark period of violence and repression — as a political opportunity.

In periods like this, stained by ongoing violence, societal polarization and political desperation, one of the most dangerous things that can happen is for responsible leadership to be shoved aside by populism and political opportunism.

What we are seeing today is the true face of Israel’s government and its ministers: one that unabashedly supports — in practice as well as in rhetoric — the expansion and annexation of illegal settlements. It is a government that opposes Palestinian statehood, and has no intention of ending the occupation of its own accord.

The European Union’s new foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, made her first official visit to Israel a couple of days ago. In Jerusalem she expressed hopes for “a new start,” ostensibly referring to the growing animosity between the EU and Israel over the latter’s unrepentant and unrelenting settlement expansion.

There may be a new start in the cards, but not the one Mogherini is hoping for.

Related:
There’s nothing static about the West Bank ‘status quo’
In Silwan, the settlers are winning – big time
100 ex-generals to Bibi: Reach a Palestinian, regional accord now

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    COMMENTS

    1. Disgusted

      Israel is eating itself into oblivion. No one wants a psychopath for a neighbor. Now this? Once again more proof that Israel speaks for no one, represents no one and refuses to live with anyone. If Israel wanted peace it would have gotten it decades ago. But no, like a brat and bully all it does is invent excuses for not getting it done.

      So done with its BS. I burned and buried the Israel prayer – and I am lighter for it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tony Riley

        Israel exists
        Get over it.

        Reply to Comment
        • LOL!!

          Reply to Comment
    2. Brian

      This is organized crime. These people like Struck are just gangsters. Sneaking around cheating here and there. Steal a little bit here a little bit there. Skim it. On the down low. Because in the light of day they’d never get away with it. And bring “the people,” “Der Volk,” Jewish version, along gradually, insidiously, like sheep. Lenin and Stalin also hid behind a narcissistic “vanguard” role, in the service of a fanatic ideology, but in the end, in the final analysis, they were just gangsters. Nighttime operators. And responsible for nightmarish human carnage.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        Yes, Stuck may be a gangster but at least she is a honest one.

        As she says, its impossible right now to fully annex the entire area – not because of adverse international fallout but because the Israeli collective stomach is not quite up to it yet.

        Times of internal unrest are, in fact, opportunities to further the gradual de facto annexation of the West Bank. I have never thought the possibility of a mass extermination along with a mass forced transfer of non-Jews from the West Bank and EJ was completely off the cards.

        I just wonder, who in their right mind would actually want to live as a Jew in Israel. The great irony is that the Zionists just may eventually get all the land and find that the educated and decent upon the Jewish Israeli population just want to get the hell out of there.

        Fortress Israel and/or the biggest Jewish ghetto in the world? Maybe the Zionist experiment ends not in bang but a whimper.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn4

      The Palestinians make unilateral moves in the UN, and we’ll make unilateral moves of our own. The Palestinians can get recognition for an imaginary situation at the UN, and we’ll simply declare that which is already real that the Palestinian have yet to accept – that most of the Israeli settlements will remain in Israel in any peace deal. In case it wasn’t clear before, yes, the Israeli response to the Palestinians pursuing a unilateral resolution to the conflict at the UN will be Israeli annexation of parts of the disputed West Bank.

      The Palestinian view that they can freeze the conflict while rejecting Israeli peace proposals and continue to expect better offers is stupid and based in an entirely fictitious reading of reality. The offers will inevitably get less generous because Israel will continue to take irreversible control of more and more areas of the disputed West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, right

        K4: “The Palestinians make unilateral moves in the UN, and we’ll make unilateral moves of our own.”

        There is an essential difference: nobody suggests that it is illegal for the PLO to take their case to the UN.

        Not even ISRAEL argues that doing that is “illegal”, however much Netanyahu rails against the impertinence of Abbas.

        However, there is not a single country on planet earth – not even the USA – that accepts Israel’s argument that it is legal for an occupying power to apply its own domestic laws to an occupied territory.

        Doing that is prohibited by both the Hague Regulations and Geneva Convention IV.

        You seize a territory, you occupy it.

        And because that “authority” derives from international humanitarian law then it is that is the law that an occupier is authorized to apply i.e. the laws of belligerent occupation, not its own domestic laws.

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          The PLO move to bring its case for a state before the UN is in breach of the Oslo Accords. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy stated:

          “the Palestinians agreed immediately to resume permanent status negotiations and not to “initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.” Thus, the Wye River Memorandum affirms Oslo’s intention not to circumvent the process of negotiation, as a unilateral declaration of statehood would seem to do.”

          Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            PX: “The PLO move to bring its case for a state before the UN is in breach of the Oslo Accords.”

            That is actually incorrect, because Oslo makes no mention of the PLO’s 1988 declaration of statehood.

            Therefore “statehood” is a concept that lies entirely OUTSIDE the Oslo Accords (btw, at Israel’s insistence), and so the PLO is perfectly entitled to pursue recognition of their state at any venue they care to name.

            PX then quotes this: “initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement”

            Note that BECAUSE of the 1988 PLO declaration it can not be disputed that as far as the PLO is concerned the “status” of this territory at the time that the Oslo Accords were signed was this: it is “the state of Palestine, which is under an Israeli military occupation”.

            So going to the UN and demanding that it put an end to this endless occupation is NOT a “change of status”, precisely because the PLO has never denied that this territory is “occupied”.

            But Israel going to the UN and demanding that it recognize, say, an extension of Israeli law to the settlements WOULD represent a “change of status” from “occupied” to “annexed”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            PX quotes from WINEP, as if he expects everyone to be unaware that WINEP was created by AIPEC specifically to push the Israel Lobby nonsense.

            That WINEP spouts nonsense is easily demonstrated by this howler: “Thus, the Wye River Memorandum affirms Oslo’s intention not to circumvent the process of negotiation, as a unilateral declaration of statehood would seem to do”

            A quick look at the calendar shows us that the PLO made their unilateral declaration of statehood in 1988. The Oslo Accords were 1993, and the Wye River Memorandum was 1998.

            So in the wacky-way-out world of WINEP a declaration made in 1988 was an “intention to circumvent” a document that wasn’t signed until a decade later.

            I know that Zionists are in love with the concept of “pre-emption” but, really, that’s taking it a wee bit far….

            Reply to Comment
    4. “The Palestinians make unilateral moves in the UN”

      Uh yeah, legal, legitimate and in the light of day.

      “and we’ll make unilateral moves of our own.”

      Oh most definitely, but more of the nacht und nebel type.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn3

        “Uh yeah, legal, legitimate and in the light of day.”

        Legal? Not sure. They contradict the Oslo Accords. Legitimate? Depends on who you ask. I would argue that trying to approach the UN after signing agreements not to do so to be illegitimate. In the light of day? Indeed, commitments made to explicitly avoid these kind of steps are being broken in the light of day.

        The moves were made in the Israeli cabinet based on bills pushed forward openly and publicly in the Israeli Knesset by members of Knesset which talked about and promoted these bills in the Israeli media. There is now a lively debate about these bills taking place between Israeli politicians. The accusation that this was done in the “nighttime” or in “darkness” is stupid. We don’t have to consult you on our laws. You do not matter.

        Reply to Comment
        • Let me tell you how much I care

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn3

            Indeed, you don’t care about the truth. You are just here on your little crusade to teach the Jew heathens the proper way to behave.

            Reply to Comment
        • Yeah, right

          K3: “Legal? Not sure. They contradict the Oslo Accords”

          And? So?

          The Oslo Accords are not “treaties”. They therefore did not create a “law”.

          K3: “I would argue that trying to approach the UN after signing agreements not to do so to be illegitimate”

          You *could* argue that, but that would be an argument you can’t back up with facts.

          The PLO has gone to the UN to have their 1988 Declaration of the state of Palestine.

          You need to point to a line-item in the Oslo Accords that even mentions Palestinian statehood, let alone prohibits the PLO from approaching anyone regarding that statehood.

          But there is no mention of that anywhere in the Oslo Accords – at Israel’s insistence.

          Palestinian statehood is therefore a construct that lies entirely OUTSIDE the Oslo Accords and, as such, they are free to pursue recognition anywhere they want.

          Likewise with the territory, the “status” of the territory at the time of signing the Oslo Accords was this: it is a territory that is under the belligerent occupation of the IDF.

          Going to the UN to demand that it do something about that endless occupation therefore can not represent a “change in the status” on the part of the PLO.

          Precisely the opposite, in fact.

          And, certainly, going to the UN to complain about continued settlement expansion can not be a violation of the Oslo Accords, precisely because that complaint is about THE OTHER SIDE changing the status of the territory.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn3

            The Oslo Accords are very much treaties between the government of Israel and the PLO/PA/Palestine, however they choose to call themselves on any particular morning.

            The PLO is the body that signed the Oslo Accords. Them going to the UN is in explicit contravention to the treaty whereby they are attempting to unilaterally change the legal status of the disputed territory. If the PLO pursues statehood in Uganda, then you can argue that it is outside the scope of the treaty. While they pursue international recognition as a state within the disputed territories by their moves they are plainly and obviously acting contrary to agreements they have signed.

            The status of the territory at the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords was that of an area in dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians explicitly agreed to settle that dispute via negotiations (including issues of settlements and Jerusalem) and to not seek to unilaterally change the status of that territory, which is what they are explicitly doing now. And again, if the PLO was going to the UN to “complain” about something or other your argument might make sense, but they have gone to the UN and are now going again to the UN to change the political status of the disputed territories.

            They explicitly state that this is the goal of joining international organizations and attempting to be recognized as a state. I have no idea on what grounds you are capable of arguing that they are not breaking their commitment to not change the political status of the disputed territory. Your position is entirely baseless. It is, as Brian here likes to refer to things, plainly a ruse.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            K3: “The Oslo Accords are very much treaties between the government of Israel and the PLO/PA/Palestine”

            No, they are “interim accords”.

            The final agreement between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine will be a “treaty”.

            K3: “The PLO is the body that signed the Oslo Accords”

            Indeed they did, congratulations.

            K3: “Them going to the UN is in explicit contravention to the treaty whereby they are attempting to unilaterally change the legal status of the disputed territory.”

            No, that’s quite incorrect.

            The PLO acknowledges that these are the “occupied Palestinian territories”, and so does the UN.

            So going to the UN to complain that this occupation is endless is NOT an example of “attempting to change the status of the territory”.

            It can’t be, because “occupied Palestinian territory” has been its status since 1967.

            Pretty simple, really….

            K3: “While they pursue international recognition as a state within the disputed territories by their moves they are plainly and obviously acting contrary to agreements they have signed.”

            Again, you can’t defend that argument.

            The PLO is not going to the UN to ask the UN to “make them into a state”.

            Far from it.

            The PLO insists that their 1988 declaration meant that they have been a state since 1988, and what they are asking the UN to do is to agree to that proposition.

            The PLO is perfectly entitled to do that (nothing in Oslo nullifies that 1988 declaration) and by doing that they are **not** attempting to “change the status of this territory”.

            Or, put another way: the PLO is NOT making a declaratory statement that they wish to BECOME a state via a vote in the UN.

            Again, far from it.

            They are claiming that “we became a state in 1988”, and all that they are seeking is a declaratory statement from the UN that “by golly, you’re right!”.

            Again, that’s perfectly legitimate precisely because the Oslo Accords say nothing – absolutely nothing – either for-or-against that 1988 declaration of the state of Palestine.

            Reply to Comment
      • turtle of doom

        Yes, I always love it when Israel demands from the Palestinians to abstain from violence – but in the next breath, the Israeli government condemns it when the Palestinians peacefully use the International Court in The Hague, or the UN in New York!

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Nacht und Nebel.” The perfect name for this gang. You know Netanyahu’s statements are meant to prepare the ground for mass population transfer under “fog of war.” This is the Right’s end game whether they succeed in engineering it this time around or fifty years from now.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Bruce Gould

      I hope everyone has set their clocks according to daylight savings and – just a reminder – this is olive tree burning season again:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-west-bank-palestinians-gird-for-settler-attacks-on-olive-trees/2014/10/21/eb4f5096-54a8-11e4-892e-602188e70e9c_story.html

      “Last year, the United Nations reported that Israeli settlers damaged or destroyed nearly 11,000 olive trees and saplings owned by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The trees were burned, toppled by bulldozers, felled with chain saws.”

      Reply to Comment
    6. Average American

      “That’s why we must continue in what has been the Zionist way, which has always been a gradual path.”
      Let there be no further doubt of Israel’s intentions for Zionism’s Eretz Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    7. sanctimonious purist

      Annexation would move the discussion from land and security to human rights. This is a good thing for the Palestinians. It would make the apartheid state more obvious. Once that happens, the US tide will turn and BDS will become mainstream. University students, leftists, and liberal Jews will increase their activism and soon, like in the anti-apartheid fight for SA, justice and equality will finally become the guiding principles.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Margot Dunne

      Never fear, frantic purveyors of Zionism — you have the great and the good political class of Australia cheering you every step of the way! Last weekend a former Foreign Minister made a speech critical of Israel &, horror upon horror, accepted a position as patron of a pro-Palestinian group. Outrage exploded from his political party & also ( via the Murdoch press) from members of the public whom I wish would go & live in Israel, so full of Zionist zeal they are. But there was one letter that struck a different note: a gentleman wrote that his grandfather was the first Australian ambassador to Israel in 1948, & his dispatches home “made it clear that the Israelis were embarking on a program of forcing Palestinians out of Israel, by whatever means.” The government of Oz ignored this then & ignores it now, whichever party is in power, & justice is a sad little voice crying in the wilderness.

      Reply to Comment
    9. I don’t understand this proposal to extend Israeli law to parts of WB. I thought all Israeluis livinmg in WB were already (and automatically) subject to Israeli law whereas all others living in WB were automatically subejct to Military Law of Occupation.

      I guess something new was intended but can anyone say what it waws?

      And another thing. Are israelis living outside Israel allowed to vote in Israeli elections? Must they travel into Israel to do so? Are israelis living in WB and Golan required to rtravel “to Israel” to vote? Asking for clarification only.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, right

        “I thought all Israeluis livinmg in WB were already (and automatically) subject to Israeli law whereas all others living in WB were automatically subejct to Military Law of Occupation.”

        That applies to criminal prosecutions i.e. if a Palestinian and a settler get into a punch-up then the Palestinian fronts a military court, while the settler fronts an Israeli criminal court.

        But in the West Bank “laws” are not enacted via legislation since – obviously – laws passed by the Knesset only have jurisdiction “in Israel”.

        So “laws” in the West Bank have always been enacted via a military order issued by the IDF commander in the West Bank.

        Note that what this proposal really does is this: it compels the IDF commander to issue an equivalent Military Order within 45 days of the Knesset enacting a new domestic law.

        Which rather puts the IDF commander in a tight spot, since he will not be able to plead ignorance regarding the illegality of the orders that he will be following.

        Command responsibility ‘n’ all that then rears its ugly head….

        Reply to Comment
    10. Yeah, right

      Interesting that MK Struck can use the legislate process to agitate for a drastic political change that she OPENLY admits the Israeli popln is opposed to, and that elicits approval from Bibi.

      Yet an Israeli Arab can agitate for a dramatic political change – secularism – and this elicits howls of outrage and dire threats of being stripped of citizenship.

      Yet Struck’s plans are far, far more likely to result in The End Of Israel than is anything proposed by any Arab MK.

      Odd, isn’t it, that Israeli Jews are blind to the real threat.

      Which is rampant nationalism, not the “threat” posed by an oppressed – and therefore disgruntled – minority.

      Reply to Comment
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