Though Israeli officials often insist they are interested in peace, they do so in bad faith. In reality, Israel is committed to unbridled expansion, and will take whatever fraudulent and illegal measures it deems necessary to achieve its colonial objectives. This includes building illegal settlements that continue to encroach upon Palestinian sovereignty;
Despite international criticism, settlers have recently been accelerating the pace of construction. The Israeli Knesset recently announced a plan that seeks to secure these settlements using a very different strategy: taking things slow. 972 magazine’s editor-in-chief Michael Omer-Man wrote an essay about this new strategy of creeping annexation, which allows for land to be stolen with less scrutiny from the global community:
This week saw yet another such legislative anti-drama, an initiative promoted by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to apply Israeli law to the West Bank, or more specifically, to Israeli settlements and the settlers who live there.
Yes, adding to and further entrenching the laws that Israel has already applied (via military order) to the West Bank and the settlements and settlers there represents movement toward annexation. (Applying one’s civilian law to occupied territory, like Israel did in the Golan Heights, is largely considered to be de facto annexation.) But then again that’s been going on for decades. (More on that later.)
Shaked and other high profile members of her political party make no secret of their intentions to annex the West Bank to Israel — slowly. They recognize that neither mainstream Israel nor the international community is ready to accept sweeping annexation; incremental annexation is a far more effective, and achievable goal.
The leader of Shaked’s party, Naftali Bennett, whose plan to annex 60 percent of the West Bank helped propel him into power, has on numerous occasions said so quite openly.
“This is a process,” Bennett explained at the Brookings Institute a year and a half ago, just a few weeks after a previous annexation bill died in the Knesset. “I’m not suggesting that, you know, one day in midday we just [annex]. There’s a process of changing the global view of what’s going on here and it has to start with that… And it takes time. It’s an uphill battle.”
At the time, Orit Stuck, the sponsor of a previous, more ambitious annexation bill, openly described how she and other annexationists have prepared a series of 10 draft laws that would annex the West Bank in stages: first individual settlements, then Area C, and eventually, everything west of the Jordan River.
But nobody is ready to stomach full annexation, explained Struck, then a member of Knesset from Bennett and Shaked’s party. “As of now, it is impossible to create such a basis of support for the idea of annexing the entire area including Ramallah, Nablus and more cities,” she added. “That’s why we must continue in what has been the Zionist way, which has always been a gradual path.”
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