The Israeli peace camp, which has opposed the Israeli government’s policy of occupation since 1967, is united more than ever in its new fight against annexation. The issue is taking many of us out of our previous bubble of supporting the two-state solution, forcing us instead to rethink the entire nature of the peace process. Many, along with myself, view annexation in its simplest form, as an attempt to legalise what was previously illegal in Israeli law.
And while everyone in the peace camp agrees about the threat annexation poses for peace, the coming annexation is making different groups sharpen their positions and objectives. On the right of the peace camp, liberal Zionist groups like Commanders for Israel’s Security argue for the importance of preventing the annexation, because it is “dangerous for Israel”; other groups, such as Peace Now, are maximising their fight against the annexation, still clinging to the two-state solution as the only viable option to guarantee Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state; other groups, such as B’tselem, Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace are coming from an equal rights perspective. Some also assume the reasonable scenario of a gradual annexation starting soon, therefore demanding two questions: what such a move would look like and whether this new reality requires a different paradigm to the two-state solution.
The de jure annexation is our government’s attempt to perpetuate the so-called “temporary” Occupation, supported by Trump’s misleadingly named “Peace Plan”
Until recently, nominal support for the two-state solution has been used by the Israeli government and right-wing Zionist lobby groups around the world as a fig leaf for justifying the Occupation. Similarly, some liberal Zionist groups in the Israeli peace camp have abstained from acknowledging the reality of it: the prevalent messages among these groups were “pro two-state solution” and “stop the settlements”. But there was notably little discussion about the actual nature of a Palestinian state or Palestinian rights. In light of the annexation, this narrative is becoming less prominent in the Israeli peace camp. To demonstrate this, two weeks ago a protest of thousands against the annexation in Tel Aviv became the largest coalition the Israeli peace camp has seen in many years. It was organised by two political parties, Meretz and Hadash, of the Arab Joint List. Palestinian flags, which used to be seen only at smaller protests, were highly visible there, a sign that the event enjoyed significant cross section of Jewish-Arab support.
The de jure annexation is our government’s attempt to perpetuate the so-called “temporary” Occupation, supported by Trump’s misleadingly named “Peace Plan”. It aims to alter the two-state solution into a Bantustan “state minus”, therefore giving a green light for annexation. This is a unilateral step which does not promote a mutual peace agreement. On the contrary, it is intended to stop the two-state solution, giving Israel sovereignty over the whole territory between the Jordan and the sea. This has led some notable Israeli activists and politicians suggesting with horror that the annexation might create a form of apartheid state.
Mere rhetorical condemnation means complying with legalising a one-state approach without equal rights
In terms of Israel’s foreign policy, Israel’s decision to send Tsipi Hotovely, the former Minister of Settlement Affairs to succeed Mark Regev as the Israeli ambassador to the UK, demonstrates a possible shift from the pro-two-state discourse which has been prevalent until recently, to a pro one-state official line. While some in the British Jewish community are opposing her appointment, some in the Israeli peace camp believe it will make our work petitioning European governments against the annexation easier.
While there is almost total consensus in the peace camp that preventing annexation will not bring an end to the Occupation – and growing acknowledgement that a de facto partial annexation has possibly been a planned strategy since 1967, supported by the current presence of over 600,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – it is still imperative we highlight why we believe it to be a serious and dangerous development.
Will Britain follow Netanyahu and Trump, or will she listen to us Israelis who have seen our country led by Netanyahu and his allies down this path of injustice?
Now, more than ever, we need the help of British and other like-minded European governments to act in accordance with the law and their professed values, and to take measures against the annexation plan. Mere rhetorical condemnation means complying with legalising a one-state approach without equal rights. Will Britain follow Netanyahu and Trump, or will she listen to us Israelis who have seen our country led by Netanyahu and his allies down this path of injustice? Will she let the current Israeli Government win its effort in making the two-state solution obsolete and unachievable, or will Britain be committed to its legacy? As is stated in the Balfour Declaration: “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
This article is part of CMEC's "Annexation: Brittania Waives the Rules?" opinion series. The views expressed are those of the author alone.