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Meretz: We won't oppose annexation of Jordan Valley

Far-right politicians prefer it when their more outlandish proposed laws are shot down prudently from across the aisle. One party on the Left now tries to edge out of that role. 

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon on Monday declared that her party will no longer rescue Israel’s ruling coalition from itself, and will not vote against an annexation bill proposed by Miri Regev (Likud).

The bill, endorsed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, would apply Israeli law to much of the Jordan Valley – effectively negating the possibility  a future Palestinian state that might share a border with any country other than Israel. Under international – and Israeli – law, the Jordan Valley is as much an occupied territory as Hebron, Jenin or East Jerusalem, successive Israeli governments have long insisted this area was of special concern – and Israelis have developed a narrative to match. Settlements in the Jordan Valley are referred to in Hebrew as “communities” and “kibbutzim,” creating the impression that they are in Israel proper. In a poll conducted two years ago, most Israelis under 20 did not even know the area was occupied.

The bill proposed by Miri Regev is unlikely to pass into law, and Galon hasn’t given up on the two-state solution: annexation would be a provocation even the apathetic second-term Obama would find impossible to swallow. When I interviewed Galon a few months ago she declined to even discuss alternatives to two states because she feared that would legitimize the one-state prospect. Like much of the center-left at the moment, Meretz seems intent on going down with the two-state ship rather than so much as be overheard considering a lifeboat.

The bill is actually meant as a statement of general intent from coalition members to the right of Netanyahu, and as a means of scoring points with their own electorate. The intention is not to wreck the negotiations so much as to rock the boat a bit. For balance, the provoacteurs and Netanyahu rely both on their own coalition partners – Livni’s Hatnua and Lapid’s Yesh Atid – and on opposition parties like Meretz to stop the boat from capsizing. This way, they can present themselves, time and again, as patriotic victims of back-stabbing lefties, while Netanyahu relies on the same lefties to spare him the need to intervene against a motion most of his own electorate would support. This is the role from which Meretz is finally bowing out.

The bill won’t pass anyway, with Meretz or without them. Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see someone calling the bluff and indicating yet another way of putting Netanyahu into a corner.

Jordan Valley fence would finalize the West Bank’s complete enclosure
Oslo 20 years later: The origins and dangers of ‘security zones’ 

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    1. “Not oppose” means voting for or abstaining or not being present?

      I am beginning to see those “to the right” of Bibi as those unconcerned with their international face. Bibi seems to personify the growing Israeli definition of ideological position as coalition outcome; that is, the coalition itself, with its various members in quasi-autonomous ministry posts, determine ideology by their separate actions. The present UK coalition government doesn’t operate this way; rather, party leaders negotiate a common stance and ministers of their parties obey. The Israeli coalition thus generates surprises for the PM, such as the recent, now frozen, housing tenders. This is touted as democracy, where voters of various parties have their say through their up front party members placed in ministerial posts; but it also devolves responsibility as a coalition, each saying “they did it, not us,” pushing away from compromise or moderate positions. Which is why I call the Israeli ruling politics a War Council where each may maraud a bit on its own.

      As to the Jordon Valley, it seems self evident to me that Israel will never let it go, which is one (but not only) reason why Two States is impossible save through redefinition of the term.

      Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      It looks like that everyone is desperate to coerce Abbas into siging the agreement, and the threat of (US-backed?) annexation is one of last remaining levers of pressure. Basically, if Abbas would not sign ASAP, there will be no Fatah-ruled Palestinian state – only Hamastan in Gaza.

      Actually, it would be the best outcome for Palestinian Arabs. However, succesful integration of WB would seriously undermine Hamas and Co., so chances that Israel would really annex more territories are rather slim.

      Reply to Comment
      • un2here

        Hypothetically, with the one-state solution comes the possibility of Abbas becoming the president of Israel

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Prime minister. In Israel, President does not have much power and is used mostly for decoration.

          It would be funny tho…

          2017, 3rd post annexation government:

          Abbas – prime minister, Lieberman – foreign affairs, in coalition; Ismail Haniyah and Bibi in opposition; Peres – president.

          However, Abbas is too much hated to be actually elected by anyone.

          However, it is totally possible that in 20-30-50 years an Arab would be elected as a prime minister.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      There ain’t a snowball’s chance in hell Israel will ever annex any part of the West Bank because to do so would be kissing goodbye any chance of future normalcy for Israel. My guess is Meretz knows this, and this is why they are playing along in Likud’s little pretend game. At least, I hope that’s their line of reasoning. But you never know, even with Meretz, who in the past has shown they can be every bit as zionist as any other party (e.g. Cast Lead).

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        “they can be every bit as zionist as any other party”

        I find it funny when people use the word Zionist as a negative adjective. You’re funny.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Don’t you know?
          Jews are not allowed to have a state of their own, so all and any Zionists are international criminals by definition.

          Reply to Comment
      • William Burns

        Israel already has annexed part of the west bank–that included in the expanded municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Pretend annexation that no one will ever recognize, just like their “annexation” of the Golan.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The interesting thing about “fake annexations” is that within Israel they are very real. The other thing about “fake annexations” is that whether anyone recognizes them or not isn’t terribly important. It is like ‘not recognizing’ the settlements or the security barrier. I am pretty sure that I can still see them regardless of whether someone in Berlin ‘recognizes them or not’.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Loudon Cleary

      The stupidity of even left-wing Israeli politicians never ceases to amaze me. Here is a proposal guaranteed like nothing else to destroy what shred remains of Israel’s international legitimacy – without which Israel cannot survive – and Meretz refuses to save the country just because it also may save Likud. Talk about short-sightedness and cutting off your nose to spite your face!

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        ” to destroy what shred remains of Israel’s international legitimacy – without which Israel cannot survive”

        And which moron fed you this line of nonsense? It is an incredibly stupid position that has nothing to support it.

        Reply to Comment