Israel heading into annexation abyss without a safety net analysis – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 5, 2020

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White) woke up on Wednesday morning unclear if the day would end with a dramatic announcement with regard to Israeli annexation of portions of the West Bank.He was blunt about his lack of information when Army Radio quizzed him about what to expect over the coming 12 hours.Could there be a declaration of sovereignty, the radio interviewer asked.I dont know, Ashkenazi replied. You should ask [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.But you are Israels foreign minister, doesnt he update you? the startled radio interviewer asked.It was the perfect metaphor for the day, which had the potential to unfold as a significant crossroad moment in the history of the nation, as Israel embarked on a process of expanding its sovereign boundaries for only the fourth time in its history.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was so concerned that he published a Hebrew-language opinion piece in one of Israels leading papers, warning against the move.But Netanyahu, renowned the world over for his superior oratory skills, could only muster a brief statement in which he explained that talks were ongoing.Just in case one wondered if there was a prepared and coordinated behind-the-scenes plan, a public conversation in the Knesset State Control Committee showed otherwise, as representatives of different ministries and offices explained that they have not been properly briefed or were not in the conversation at all.Among those who have not been brought into the debate is the Justice Ministry, whose work would be critical to the issue of transforming a territory now under Israeli military and civilian rule into one that was legally bound to Israeli law.Effectively, at least 430,000 Israelis have to disengage from one legal system and engage in another. According to some legal experts, the moment that Netanyahu brings the issue of sovereignty to a vote, its application is immediate and all military laws would be annulled. Yet the Justice Ministry has not been in conversation with the National Security Council on the matter.Its not as if the idea of annexing portions of the West Bank rattled across Israel like some surprise summer shower.Back in September, Netanyahu promised to annex the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea as soon as his new government was formed. At the time, Netanyahu would have had every reason to believe that he would have to act on the matter within a few months. After all, he spoke just days before Israelis headed to the polls. Netanyahu could not have known that he would fail to form a coalition and be forced by circumstance to delay his promise as Israel faced yet another election.One would have liked to imagine that he already had a program in place and if not, that he had started to quickly work on one.But it is endemic to Israels culture, a country that lives in a permanent state of emergency, to act first and work through the consequences later. In so doing, it tends to dumb down complex situations, glossing over their difficulties, relying on a series of miracles and band-aid cures to ensure that it all comes out right in the end.IN THE days leading up to the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, left-wing politicians tended to proclaim that settlers could be evacuated with ease and that it was only right-wing obstinacy to that necessary act that had gummied up the works. They made it sound as if all that needed to happen was for a truck to drive up to settler homes, pick up their belongings and then drive them to a comparable home within the Green Line.In a way, they were not wrong. Once the IDF was ready to act, it pulled the Gaza residents out of their homes and leveling 21 communities within just over a week. Turns out, it takes very little for a bulldozer to reduce three decades of ones life to rubble.Settlers were also correct, however, when they said the government had no plan for the day after.It took less than an hour to drive them into sovereign Israel and anywhere from five to 10 years to relocate them. It was a process filled with unimagined small bureaucratic hurdles that somehow became impenetrable mountains.Their evacuations did not halt talks of further endeavors, but no one since has made the mistake of imaging that the process would happen with ease.Annexation is likely to be the same way in reverse, its declaration will happen quickly and the untangling of how it operates will become a seat-of-the-pants operation.So how is that Israel arrived at the moment with no preparatory time? The answer is that not unlike a war, a pandemic or a blizzard, circumstances have forced Israel into action even though its unprepared.The July 1 date was likely placed in the coalition document not because Israel planned to be prepared, but because it thought it might be forced to act as early as July 1.At issue for Israel are two sets of circumstances. The first is the International Criminal Court, which could soon issue a ruling that it has the jurisdiction to try Israelis for war crimes. Included in that would be settlement activity. There would be no better response for Israel to that action than to immediately declare sovereignty.After that, the US elections loom. Israelis calculate that it is risky to presume a Trump victory and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is already known to oppose annexation. Even if Trump wins, they fear that he will be less responsive to their concerns in the second term than the first.After that, the COVID-19 pandemic offers them a unique opportunity to act while goal attention is largely preoccupied with other things.In talking to Army Radio Wednesday morning, Ashkenazi said, We are not standing with a stopwatch, there is nothing holy about this date.But there is significance to this summer. Despite the analysis of skeptics that the passage of July 1 without action means that this endeavor was never serious, Israeli has already tipped over the edge of no-return.The situation is made more complex, of course, due to disagreements between Israel and the US, as well as between Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz.But the only thing that Israel really showed on Wednesday is that when it comes to annexation, its going to be a bumpy ride.

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Israel heading into annexation abyss without a safety net analysis - The Jerusalem Post

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