Security barrier near Jerusalem. Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Encountering Peace: Annexing the West Bank – a catastrophic plan for the Jewish people

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I have yet to figure out what people on the Right propose instead of partitioning the land into two states for two peoples.

In all of the many years I have been working for peace I have yet to figure out what people on the Right propose instead of partitioning the land into two states for two peoples. Some have been honest and said that in their view there will never be peace and that therefore there is no need to even speak to the Arabs.

Others with a more religious approach have said that there will never be peace and it doesn’t matter because God gave us this land, we are his people and he will protect us. OK, can’t really enter into an argument with someone who sincerely believes that the decisions of the governments of Israel are guided by divine providence.

A leading right-wing, senior Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick has begun to expose her proposals for Israeli annexation of all of the land occupied by Israel in June 1967. The claim is that even if Israel were to offer to all of the Palestinians in the West Bank Israeli citizenship they would only reach only one third of the total population, and that the Jewish birth rate is on the rise, so everything will be just fine.

Of course, those who support annexation believe the Palestinians will simply give up all of their national aspirations and embrace their new status as citizens of the Jewish State of Israel and we will all live in peace.

Those who support annexing the West Bank are living in fantasy land for at least two reasons: first, no matter how much annexationists want the demographic data to support her politics, they simply do not. Palestine is full of Palestinians, their numbers are increasing and there are many more outside of Palestine who wish to return to their homeland. In a country which allows Jews to receive automatic citizenship upon arrival (Israel’s Law of Return) it would be hard to deny the Palestinian the same right (in their own state) and if they were to become citizens of Israel, why would they not demand to exercise that right of return in their own state, which would, according to annexationists, be Israel.

Secondly, the Palestinians have no intention and no inclination whatsoever to drop their demands for a state of their own, just as we would never drop our demands for the same. Those who propose annexing the West Bank apparently think that we will either buy their national aspirations with Israel’s great economy and opportunities that will be granted to them, or we will scare them into acquiescence by the large “sticks” that we carry. Neither of those will happen.

Not only will annexation of the territories bring on the wrath of the whole world, the Palestinians will never give up their nationalism and if they have no political avenue to wage their struggle in the world, they will use violence against Israel, and we will certainly feel the pain of their wrath.

But we should not take action out of fear. We should take action and reject this dangerous advice out of self-interest for ourselves and our children.

The right wing crowd of extremists have no solution for Israel and the Jewish people. The only thing they can promise us is that Israel will live by the sword forever.

The hatred of the entire world will be brought down on us, yet she and her friends will shout and scream that it is the same classic anti-Semitism that we have always known. But it is not.

The world does not hate us, and most of the world would be quite pleased to trade with us, to visit our country, to learn from our experiences and our achievements.

But if we even come close to implementing the annexation plan, even our few good friends today will abandon us. Not only that, the millions of decent Israelis, who believe in democracy and the values of equality will object to forcing millions of Palestinians to live in what can only be ethnic discrimination forever, denied of their basic right of self-determination.

If the annexationists were really serious about their plan they would be on the front lines today demonstrating for genuine equality for the 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel in order to prove that annexing millions of more Arabs to Israel is good for them and good for Israel.

But they are not; they perceive the Arab citizens of Israel equally the enemy of Israel as they do every other non-Jew in the world today, especially the Muslim non- Jews. There is no subtle way of saying this: the annexationists on the extreme right wing are dangerous to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.

Gershon Baskin is co-chairman of IPCRI, Israel-Palestine: Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI), formerly known as the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, a nonprofit think tank that combines research with peace-building actions and advocacy across Israel and Palestine. He is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew, and The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas by The Toby Press.

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Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin is one of the most recognizable names in the Middle East Peace process. His dedication to creating a culture of peace and environmental awareness, coupled with his impeccable integrity, has earned him the trust of the leaders of all sides of the century old conflict. Few people have such far-reaching and positive impacts on promoting peace, security, prosperity and bi-national relationships.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.
Gershon Baskin

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