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Naftali Bennett’s annexation plan: A report card

Before he was Minister of the Economy, Naftali Bennett was a Knesset hopeful whose plan to annex the majority of the West Bank shook the political establishment. Two years later, it’s worth seeing just how much he has gotten done.

By Joel Braunold

Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett (Photo by Activestills.org)

Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett (Photo by Activestills.org)

When Naftali Bennett first entered the coalition, I wrote of his plan to create a de facto one-state solution. Now that the current government is in its final days, it is worth taking stock of his progress and looking at what his plans are for round two.

Strengthening the belief in the supremacy of claims to the Jewish homeland and the justness of measures to maintain control of it.

The last straw of this current government was the Jewish Nation-State Bill. As he stated in his much-watched performance at the Brookings Institute, Bennett’s next target is the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the constitutional basis in Israel for civil and human rights. He believes the “balance” was tipped by the Supreme Court and that Israel has become too democratic and not Jewish enough.

It is therefore no surprise that Bennett’s Jewish Home party has indicated it will demand the Justice Ministry in the next government.

Uniting the nation and its leadership

Though it was clear that Jewish Home’s Uri Ariel was Housing Minister only for the West Bank settlements, Bennett’s personal popularity has only grown. His latest campaign video shows him trying to break out of the ‘settlement party’ box.

Military strength and controlling of the territory through the security establishment.

Bennett scored big political points during the last war in Gaza by arguing in favor of a ground invasion to shut down the tunnels early on in the operation. The fact that he was ahead of the curve has been important for his profile. Based on this performance (and his previous military service), he now regularly dismisses security officials who disagree with him.

The elimination of terror and cessation of incitement in Palestinian schools.

Bennett has maintained that there is no partner in the PA, pointing to incitement. He continues to do so at every available opportunity.

Making clear to the international community that a second state west of the Jordan River is not viable.

Many folks were surprised by the strength of Bennett’s performance during the Saban Conference in Washington earlier this month. Bennett’s main calling card is that he fully rejects the two-state solution and wants to shift the conversation in a different direction. The cornerstone of his plan is the annexation of Area C and some sort of self-rule in Areas A and B. Gaza isn’t worthy of inclusion in his plan. The more he can get people to agree that the two-state solution is dead, the more he can claim that he is the only person with a path forward.

Advancing the immigration of one million Jews to Israel to secure a permanent Jewish majority in Israel.

Bennett rather enjoyed his position as Minister for Diaspora Affairs.  He was Chairman of Birthright and champion of the World Jewry Joint Initiative, a program designed to scale up the concept of Birthright and have Israeli tax-payers responsible for ensuring a strong Jewish identity within the diaspora. As I’ve written previously, the idea of having struggling middle-class Israelis subsidize the humongous costs of Jewish day school education in the States is a losing concept. More importantly, being a third-party funder will give the Diaspora Minster a say over Jewish educational content in the U.S. and will give Bennett a whole new platform — targeting a new generation — to continue advocating and advancing his one-state vision.

One million Jews in Judea and Samaria, tripling its Jewish population.

As Labor MK and Knesset Finance Committee member Stav Shaffir consistently showed, under Bennett’s priorities, the Finance Committee would give larger and more subsidies to West Bank settlements than to the socioeconomically weak towns and cities in the south of Israel. Between the Housing Ministry and the Knesset Finance Committee chairmanship, Bennett’s party has ensured that cash continues to flow across the Green Line in disproportionately larger and larger sums in order to make this his vision a reality.

Palestinian construction workers in an Israeli settlement (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinian construction workers in an Israeli settlement (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The creation of large residential areas surrounding the current West Bank settlements.

Though there was no formal settlement building freeze during this government, there were constant rumblings about an informal freeze outside the major settlement blocs. Bennett hopes to continue advancing his one-state vision through his annexation of Area C, which he will be in a greater position to do if he takes becomes Israel’s next Defense Minister.

Executing a construction, development and economic plan for the million Jewish Israeli residents of the West Bank.

The Defense Minister is the de-facto sovereign of the West Bank. Not due to any lack of effort, many of Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s initiatives never got approval from the Defense Minister under this government. It is no wonder that one of Bennett’s main anticipated demands from Netanyahu in the next coalition is being given the reigns to the Defense Ministry.

Over all, Bennett has done remarkably well. What has stood in his way has been the Supreme Court and his inability to get final approval for settlement projects in the West Bank. It is little wonder that he wants to push through the Jewish Nation-State bill, while insisting on the Justice and Defense portfolios as his price for ensuring Bibi’s return to Balfour Street in Jerusalem.

Whether or not Bibi gives him everything he wants, Bennett is riding high.

What of the any-one but Bibi coalition (AOBB)?

For the math to work for AOBB, either the ultra-Orthodox need to sit with Lapid (not a chance in hell) or Meretz needs to sit with Avigdor Liberman. With the role of the Arab parties still unknown (as they struggle with the Left to work out how, if at all, they should work together) they have been left on the outside, at best in a supporting role.

Thus the savior of the two-state camp (Avigdor Liberman) is a man who wants to transfer Arab citizens out of Israel, the implementation of which would mark the formal departure of the concept of coexistence from the two-state paradigm.

If Bennett has accomplished anything it is this: he has forced the two-state camp to rely on a party whose main plank is the transfer and disenfranchisement of Arab citizens of Israel.

Until the Left finds a way to include the Arab parties in their potential coalition, the result will be depressing and the coalition-building formula will mean that the two-state solution may no longer be worth the price.

Joel Braunold is the U.S. Director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace. He blogs for Haaretz regularly. He writes here in a personal capacity.

Related:
Bennett is not the problem
‘Anyone but Bibi’ isn’t the point: Pre-election postulations

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    COMMENTS

    1. Mikesailor

      He is the poster child for Israel. Only Feiglin comes close. Their candor is almost refreshing for it took decades for the South Africans to admit their aims, and five years (’33 to ’38’) for the Nazis to admit theirs. Yet here they are, the right-wing Zionists (there really never was a “left wing” Zionist) exhibiting to the world the culmination of Zionist ideology and reveling in its racist ethos. The underlying policy hasn’t just occurred; this has been the result of decades of theft and brutality masked with the assistance of Diaspora Jews by propaganda or “hasbara” and the deft use of “Jewish” money for media and campaign finances. The only thing new about Bennett is the ultimate arrogance; telling the world, in effect, that Zionism and Israel are “uber alles” and threatening the world with retaliation if it tries to stop the madness. But the momentum in the rest of the word is against the Israeli policies and its underlying philosophy. In this battle of ideologies, Zionism will inevitably lose. The question therefore is how long and how bloody the lesson meted out to Israel will be in the future, for I don’t see the policies, and Jewish support therefore, waning unless under severe pressure.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      nsttnocontentcomment

      Reply to Comment
    3. Pedro X

      What about a report card on the Palestinians. Today on the holiest day of the Christian calender Palestinian terrorists attempted to burn a father and elven year old daughter to death. The Israelis’ car was hit with a Molotov cocktail and set on fire. The eleven year old girl suffered burns to 50% of her body. Watch the video and remember that the PSR Palestinian poll of December 9, 2014 tells us that 80% of Palestinians approve of such attacks on Israeli civilians.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5Imwg4but0

      This is but one of many attacks on Israelis to kill or seriously injure them, It was only a couple of days ago that another Israelis child was injured in a car attack. This past week numerous Palestinian terrorists were arrested with knives or pipe bombs.

      Ask yourself if these Palestinians deserve a state of their own to carry on their war against Israelis? Mordechai Nissan asks why anyone would help create an irridentist terrorist state on Israel’s border?

      At least Bennett has the balls to state that the establishment of a Palestinian state is not in Israel’s interest. However, Bennett’s plan does not go far enough. Israel should stop trying to establish a Palestinian state next to it and begin to seek its demise by boycotting the Palestinian Authority and Hamas governmental agencies. This means no longer supplying oil, water, currency, clearance revenues, port facilities, or postal services. Israel should disengage from trying to create a Palestinian state.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ginger Eis

      “Thus the savior of the two-state camp (Avigdor Liberman) is a man who wants to transfer Arab citizens out of Israel, the implementation of which would mark the formal departure of the concept of coexistence from the two-state paradigm.”

      I am not a supporter of Lieberman, but this claim is blatantly false. A lie! Lieberman does not advocate- and has never advocated the “transfer” of anyone.
      Lieberman himself has provided ample material that any person of average intelligence can knit together to make a malicious case against him (if he chooses to). Given that fact then, only a dunce would resort to flat-out lies to make Lieberman look bad – as does Joel Braunold in this case. And the stupidity does not even end there: “Transfer” has become a concept of Int. law and is within the meaning of said law a war crime! Now, why, if Joel Braunold believes his OWN claim, would the super moral “two state camp” align itself with someone who (a) not only espouses “transfer”/war crime, but will ALSO (b) bring about “the formal departure of the concept of coexistence from the two-state paradigm”? THAT does not make sense and is a fatal illogicality within the logic of Joel Braunold. Apparently this author either does not even read and reflect on what he writes before publishing or thinks that +972mag readers are sooo stupid that they would swallow whatever garbage he feeds them line, hook and sinker?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ginger Eis

      Here is ‘A’ part Naftali Bennett’s political vision. If you don’t like Bennett’s ideas, the only way to defeat him is to defeat his arguments. Resorting to demonizing Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Home is just cheap and lazy and shows how strong his arguments are and how weak yours! The real message on this video clip begins at the 2:57 mark. I ask you to concentrate on the topography, the “mountains”, because the future of said mountains remains a deal breaker when it comes to the land issue (which constitutes about just 40% of the conflict).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGS4EY0ddP0

      Clearly there will be those haters who want Israel to commit suicide (while hiding behind the “’67-borders” cliché), but that just won’t happen. As said before, I am better called “racist” than be DEAD!

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      • Brian

        Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld has authoritatively discredited these recycled claims of Bennet, including the malarkey about those mountains:

        http://m.forward.com/articles/133961/israel-doesn-t-need-the-west-bank-to-be-secure/

        I do not believe that Bennet actually believes he needs the West Bank for true security reasons–he needs it for his political advancement and he needs it for his goal of subjugation of an entire people. This may sell well to an AIPAC audience that does not know any better or does not want to know any better but no serious military anaylst is fooled.

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        • Theodore

          Martin van Creveld is an Israeli military historian’, idiot! Do you even read the nonsense you paste before pasting? Why not ask Larry Derfner for his opinion? The top echelon of the IDF will make all the determinations regarding Israel’s defense needs, not an obscure historian and the sycophant who stalks one lady – Ginger – with every sorry excuse he can get. Stop embarrassing yourself, dude!

          You still have not answered my question about why you are using multiple identities: Bryan/Brian.

          Reply to Comment
          • Merav

            Theodore, here is part of the “authoritative discrediting” “opinion” from van Cliveld the “historian”…..//… “When everything is said and done, how important is the West Bank to Israel’s defense? To answer the question, our best starting point is the situation before the 1967 war. At that time, the Arab armed forces surrounding Israel outnumbered the Jewish state’s army by a ratio of 3-to-1. Not only was the high ground in Judea and Samaria in Jordanian hands, but Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem was bordered on three sides by hostile territory. Arab armies even stood within 14 miles of Tel Aviv. Still, nobody back then engaged in the sort of fretting we hear today about “defensible borders,” let alone Abba Eban’s famous formulation, “Auschwitz borders.” When the time came, it took the Israel Defense Forces just six days to crush all its enemies combined…”

            ….just hilarious !!…..’guess any high school girl can write that …..LOL….brYian/brIan is only looking for excuse to continue stalking Ginger who treats him like he does not exist an’ he ain’t got brains…. # the next minute brYan/brIan will emerge an’ respond to u; brYan/brIan will then start posting and responding to brIan/brIan an’ his nasty canine teeth will start showing as hes been doing on previous threads…..wait for it…..gonna get hilarious soon!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            +972 is an excellent site with a wide range of perceptive and principled contributors, and a number of posters, like Brian, who can invariably add insight and relevant analysis to the discussion. I would even include in this Ginger who puts forward her twisted convictions with great vehemence, and is a master of defending the indefensible.

            Having said that the site is marred by a number of one trick ponies (persons with very little talent or expertise) who play their one-string violins atrociously, repeated playing the same incoherent cacophony. Top of the list is Baruch the Insane who insists the only problem with Israel is some utterly undefined virus he calls global leftism. Next in repetitiousness is the harmless idiot Richard, who would be better praying for deliverance than trying to persuade people of the relevance of ancient mystical mumblings. Perhaps most noxious however are the intrusions of the Theodore Merav guy, totally lacking in articulateness or the ability to marshal arguments, analysis or even facts, who constantly insults those who respond to the Ice Witch of the North. For goodness sake, the whole point of a site like this is to present opinions and for the readership to offer responses; your censorious heckling and barracking is both pointless and worthless, as well as totally counter-productive in winning hearts and minds.

            Reply to Comment
          • Merav

            brYan/brIan: SAME nasty canine with multiple personality disorder raging everywhere fooling himself an’ now getting melodramatic an’ sentimental….LOL…//… next minute brIan/brYan will respond to brYan/brIan getting excited…LOL# go home you little compulsive obsessive stalker!!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Theodore Merav you make my point perfectly – thank you for your inane predictability.

            Reply to Comment
          • Merav

            aaaahh, I knew it, I knew it: brYan/brIan: SAME nasty canine with multiple personality disorder has now emerged again as brIan/brYan, projecting…LOL…., hes getting nasty raging, consoling an’ fooling himself thinkin’ hes fooling others …hilarious!!! ….now lets wait for the next round of rants from this little compulsive obsessive stalker consoling himself an’ “seeing things”…. it is sure to come….oh what a fool that keeps givin’…. wait for it….

            Reply to Comment
          • Josh

            Crazy Ginger, take your pills, or should we watch your sockpuppet Games between Ginger/Merav/Theodore the whole day long?
            You can’t win one argument against Brian, so you have to switch identities and call names, like a hasbare pre-schooler. Amusing, indeed

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          • Bryan the inevitable lot of your

            Merav, my dear friend, please be very careful – the men with strait-jackets are coming for you; please watch out.

            Reply to Comment
          • You can’t even come up with original material you nasty poodle. Time for Merav/Theodore/Sluggo’s flea bath. You can’t shut down the conversation because you don’t like it. This isn’t your site. This is an open forum. If you have more to offer than your nasty poodle, insults, lies, and ridiculousness that would be refreshing, but your sole purpose is to obfuscate and distract. You’re a train wreck.

            Reply to Comment
          • Merav

            …ok, let’s see if this canine marnie can understand this one…

            Yitzhak Rabin, in his last appearance in the Knesset, said: “We will not return to the lines of June 4, 1967 – the security border for defending the State of Israel will be in the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that concept.” In 1980 he determined: “Our evacuation of the West Bank would create the greatest threat we can possibly face.”

            http://www.defensibleborders.org/amidror.htm

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        • Guy L.

          Have you actually read Bennet’s platform, or listened to any of his speeches?

          The man actually calls for full and equal rights to Palestinians, and has actively advocated and initiated several programs to advance employment of Palestinian women.
          If you ever take the time to actually sit down and listen to what the man says, you’ll find that he’s not some overly zealous, deeply religious fanatic nutjob, but a rather pragmatic person.

          It’s a pity that he chose to surround himself with racist jackasses.

          He’s not my cup of tea, and there are many things that he’s pushing for that I’m ardently opposed to but all in all, I think he’s being overly demonized by the left.

          I’ll agree with anything you say about Liberman though. The man should not be in government.

          Reply to Comment
          • I wonder why he’s interested in promoting Palestinian women before Palestinian men and don’t trust anyone who bragged about the ease with which he killed Arabs and then believe he has their best interests at heart. How would his beliefs sound coming from a Palestinian?

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          • Guy L.

            Marnie:

            I’m guessing that Palestinian women simply have a lower employment rate than men- seems like a nice logical explanation. Really couldn’t think of any dark, race motivated ulterior motives…

            Bennet probably doesn’t have the Palestinians best interest at heart, in the same sense that Abu Mazen doesn’t have Israel’s best interest at heart. And he shouldn’t- Abu Mazen should have Palestine’s best interest at heart, as any other sane political figure. They should have the best interests of their electorates at heart (ideally of course…)

            Among other things, Bennet believes that Israel’s best interests depend on a successful integration of Palestinians into society, and giving them full and equal rights in the eyes of the law, and I share this belief with him.
            He also has a myriad of other opinions which I don’t agree with- such as a single state solution, a stronger religious influence, and some other things.

            To address your other two points- if political leaders could be disqualified for “bragging” about killings, we can rule out Baraghouti, Haniyeh, the late Sheikh Yassin, as well as Arafat, and a slew of others.
            Speaking of which- Bennet’s opinions coming from a Palestinian would be quite similar to several of the above mentioned Palestinian leaders:
            “We shall be a demographic majority in our homeland (which rightly and exclusively belongs to us), the reigning culture should be ours (as it should be), and the other guys are welcome to stay and live peacefully with us as a minority group but they must always remember that it’s our land by right!”. Which is, as far as I can tell, the same opinion of several writers and commenters here.

            Brian:

            Same as above- Bennet believes in an integration and equal rights to Palestinians, and even said so on several occasions. I do owe Marnie and you a quick correction- ALMOST equal rights, due to his opinions on Palestinian right of return.
            It may not be perfect, but goes a long way from subjugating and enslaving a population.
            While I don’t quite agree with his solution (the same way and reason I don’t agree with those who support a Palestinian single state), I still fail to see how giving Palestinians from Hebron (for example) voting rights and a citizenship is a form of subjugation and humiliation.

            Reply to Comment
          • The elevation of African American women by opening up the job market to them and closing it to African American males did nothing but cause friction in households and was instrumental in the breakup of the African American family, which was just one of the many ways the US govt harmed African American families. I appreciate your response.

            Reply to Comment
          • Guy L.

            I have to admit that I’m a bit baffled by your response. The gist of it (Please correct if I’m wrong) is that the US government decided to advance employment opportunities for African American women in order to tear the fabric of the black family?
            Or was it just an unfortunate outcome of s program that tried to do some good?
            I’m afraid it’s not a subject I’m too familiar with.

            And Bennet is actually trying to break the Palestinian family unit?
            Or am I waaay off?
            Thanks

            Reply to Comment
          • You are way off. Surprised?

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          • Guy L.

            Actually yes, and even more confused now. I have to admit that I have completely missed your point…
            Can you please explain a bit more?

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          • Bryan

            Bennet does not “call for full and equal rights for Palestinians”. In his role as Minister of the Economy he was concerned about low productivity levels in Israeli society, and this let him to propose greater integration of Haredi men and Arab-Israeli women into the workforce – but that is hugely different from promoting full and equal rights for Palestinians.

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          • Sluggo

            Bryan, are you arguing that the Arabs should ignore the efforts to bring them into the workforce / improve their lives? Why so much contempt for them? It’s cruel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Slug I know you keep your slimy belly close to the ground but is nothing below you. You know perfectly well that integration in the work force is desirable but only a small part of equal rights.

            Reply to Comment
          • Sluggo

            Glad we concur. It was good to compare notes on that because BDS folk shoot themselves in the foot all the time

            Reply to Comment
    6. Sluggo

      Wow. Marnie, I need to take this in. Just when I thought I heard every deranged conspiracy story from white, prove legend, liberals (and now I am sure you have a fat ass to boot) about how the man keeps African Americans down. You surmise the following …The employment opportunities for black women served no good. It was done merely to destroy the social and familial structure of black families…. That is outrageous and it is good you exposed your idiocy on such matters. You set civil rights back 50 years. The pity is that you attribute the same infantilism and freedom from agency that is given to the Palestinians on African Americans. Truly elitist,,wicked thoughts.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Eliza

      Ginger: You claim that Joel Braunold is just being illogical by claiming that Liberman is now the champion of the two state camp.

      You ask why ‘would the super moral “two state camp” align itself with someone who (a) not only espouses “transfer”/war crimes, but ALSO (b) bring about “the formal departure of the concept of coexistence from the two state paradigm”.

      Why indeed. Presumably because the two state camp is so weak within Israel. Its best champion is now Liberman.

      His version of the two state solution does involve the transfer of Israeli Palestinians/Arabs from the triangle which is predominantly populated by Arabs to any newly arising Palestinian state in exchange for Jewish W/B settlements being formerly part of Israel. He has been quite open about this.

      He claims it can be legal. No Israeli Arab would physically move, he/she would just continue living on the same land which would become part of Palestine.

      Despite Liberman’s claims it probably is not legal and would certainly require the approval of the Israeli Arabs in question for it to be seen as legitimate.

      All that Joel is saying that the two state solution really has little support or public backing by Israeli politicians – except Liberman. Joel Is not being illogical at all. He just sees the two state camp as now having to endure the indignity of Liberman as its most vocal backer.

      Bennett on the other hand is simply going for Greater Israel with some small autonomous zones for Palestinians. I think in Bennett land, Gaza just disappears or remains a locked in open air prison.

      Reply to Comment
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