At the threshold of his renewed innings at the crease, the Israeli Prime Minister’s equally renewed signal of intent flies in the face of international opinion, though it could be mildly welcomed by Trump’s America.
Despite the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s tut-tutting on the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank during a recent visit to Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu has let it be known that he will go ahead with his explosive agenda over the “coming months”.
The timeframe makes it pretty obvious that he is determined to ensure that his Middle East agenda attains fruition before he vacates for a while the Prime Minister’s swivel chair for Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu appears to be impervious to the trial in the corruption cases against him, the proceedings of which have only just begun.
It bears recall that Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.
It has settled nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers in the territory, but never had formally claimed it as Israeli territory due to robust international opposition.
Fifty-three years after the war, annexation of vast swathes of the West Bank will destroy the hope ~ or whatever remains of it ~ of a two-state solution.
International relations will be in ferment if Netanyahu seizes what he calls a “historic opportunity” to choreograph, more accurately redraw, the map of the Middle East. Indeed, he has been quoted by the Israeli media as saying that he intends to act as early as July.
Netanyahu merely plays to the gallery of the Likud party when he says that the opportunity to annex the West Bank had never arisen ever since Israel’s foundation in 1948.
The Palestinians, with wide international backing, seek the entire West Bank as the heartland of a future independent state.
Netanyahu’s signal threatens to push Israel closer to a confrontation with Arab and European partners, and could deepen what is becoming a growing partisan divide in the United States over Israel. Only Donald Trump appears to be supporting Netanyahu’s praxis of geopolitics.
Predictably, the Palestinians have rejected the plan, saying it is “unfairly biased” towards Israel. With Trump’s re-election prospects uncertain this November, Israeli hardliners have urged Netanyahu to move ahead with annexation quickly.
Should the annexation materialise, it will have a profound impact on international game theory.
The European Union has warned that annexation will violate international law. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in the US presidential elections, has let it be known that annexation will “choke off” hopes for a two-state solution.