JERUSALEM | Ira’s, ira’s not? And, if yes, how? The negotiations will intensify in a week of a maturity of a flagship for the project of israel’s controversial annexation of parts of the occupied west bank, which could put the palestinian question at the heart of international debates.
According to the terms of an agreement relating to the formation of a unity government with his former rival, Benny Gantz, the israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may announce from 1st of July its strategy to translate into action the plan of the administration to Trump for the Near East.
The plan provides for the annexation by Israel of the Jordan valley, a vast tongue of arable land, and of the hundred or so jewish settlements in the occupied west bank, in addition to the creation of a palestinian State on a territory reduced, and without East Jerusalem as its capital.
For Mr. Netanyahu, the plan Trump offers a “historic opportunity” to promote the “sovereignty” of Israel on parts of “Judea and Samaria”, biblical name and official for the jewish State in the west bank.
To take action, Mr. Netanyahu enjoys a window of opportunity of only a few months since the re-election to Washington, its main ally, Donald Trump, is far from assured, note analysts.
It also benefited from divisions within the european Union, the first economic partner of Israel, about possible sanctions, and a weak mobilization of the palestinian population against this project until now.
These three elements play in favour of an annexation fast. “For Netanyahu, it is to swallow the elephant, the question is, what is the size of the piece that it will swallow, that is to say, what will be the “annexed territory”, noted a western diplomat following this file closely sensitive.
In recent weeks, the israeli prime minister to the longevity record has multiplied the meetings with the representatives of more than 450,000 settlers who now live in parallel over 2.8 million Palestinians in the west bank, with these issues in the background: how to start and where to go?
A scenario maximalist advocates the annexation at the time of the colonies and of the Jordan valley, and a scenario that is more minimalist evokes the annexation, at least to begin with, colonies or blocks of settlements like Maaleh Adoumim, Goush Etzion or Ariel.
“The extent of the annexation will definitely have an impact on the intensity of the international response,” says Nimrod Goren, founder of Mitiv, a research institute on the Middle East, and a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Palestinian side, “if there is a flare-up of violence in the Gaza strip or the west bank, this will lead other countries to step up their response and may be more involved,” he says.
In recent years, the “arab Spring”, the emergence of the group islamic State (EI) and the rise to power of Iran on the regional scene have helped to put the israeli-palestinian conflict on the back seat of the priorities of the Middle East.
Simultaneously, Israel has official relations with only two arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, has sought to develop contacts with the powers in the Gulf, including the united arab Emirates.
For the first time, in mid-June, a representative of the Uae has published an article in Hebrew in an israeli newspaper to warn against the annexation of parts of the west bank.
“The annexation will certainly put an end to the aspirations israeli to better relations with the arab world and the Uae on the plans safe, economical, and cultural,” wrote the ambassador of emirates in Washington, Youssef al-Otaïba, in this text published in the daily Yediot Aharonot and retweeted by his ministry.
“We now have with us a broad international coalition against the israeli project of “annexation”, assured the AFP, the secretary general of the Organization for the liberation of Palestine (PLO), Saeb Erakat.
In addition to the regional powers and possible retaliatory measures from the european countries, prime minister Netanyahu must gauge the support of the United States in a unilateral action, because the plan to Trump provided for the annexation to the outcome of discussions, and to deal with criticisms in the house.
His partner in the unity government, Benny Gantz, former chief of the army, has warned against any measure that would undermine relations with neighboring Jordan, which has described the annexation of the “unprecedented threat to the peace process” that could plunge the middle East into a “long and painful” conflict.
Finally, in the midst of economic crisis born of the pandemic COVID-19, supporting the annexation is frayed in the israeli public, dropping below the 50% threshold, with the key being the fear of a new wave of violence.