“We don’t know what are the plans regarding the rights of the Palestinians residing in these territories,” said Tamar Hermann, a public opinion analyst at the Israel Democracy Institute. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is maintaining the timeline to annex parts of the West Bank and thus expand Israel’s sovereignty over the Palestinian territory that surrounds it. The controversial act is the latest development in the ongoing disparity between Palestinians and Jewish populations across Israel and the West Bank. While Israel claims historical and religious rights to the West Bank as the ancestral land of the Jewish people, Palestinians have equally contended such claims on their own behalf with the additional wish for a sovereign land of their own. Jerusalem is of course at the center of this religious and power-driven conflict, with the city split between the West Bank and Israel. Owing to President Donald Trump’s seeming support of Netanyahu’s rule in Israel, the state has taken bolder action establishing their control over the segmented land. With July quickly approaching, Netanyahu is hoping to initiate the annexation process and lay claim to the Jewish settlements strewn across the West Bank.
“We are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the Vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel,” said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, in a statement to NPR. The so-called “Vision” is the Trump administration’s plan titled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”, unveiled at the White House back in January. According to NPR, the plan gives Israel the green light to annex about 30% of the territory it captured in 1967’s Six Day War, leaving the remaining 70% for Palestinians to establish some autonomy. The scenario does not however see Palestinians endowed a fully independent state with an army or control over borders and airspace. Obviously, Palestinian leaders rejected such a proposal.
The U.S’s recent endorsement of Israeli foreign policy is not only an indicator of the growing comradery between Trump and Netanyahu but also an unfortunate display of America’s shifting political interests at the cost of ethical considerations and the integrity of its appearance on the global stage. Ever since Trump moved the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the latter as the official capital back in 2018, there has been a significant push for pro-Israeli foreign policy. Such policy priorities are not inherently negative, but they have an adverse effect to the current policy trends from other powers across the global stage.
“This annexation is an existential threat — a serious violation of the agreements we have signed with Israel and a part of the systematic destruction, of a future Palestinian state,” says Mr Shtayyeh, a UK-trained economist, in an interview from the Financial Times. “I am angry. I have invested most of my life in this process, and all I have wanted is for our people to have a moment of happiness, not to live under an occupation forever.” Mr. Stayyeh’s frustrations should be met with equal level concern from the international community, as annexation is simply occupation under another term, where a state unilaterally proclaims its sovereignty over other territory. Such action is deemed illegal under international law. Its last appearance was back in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and this move was met with unanimous condemnation from the global community. Yet, when Israel commits to similar efforts, many world powers are excusing the measures – even empowering them – behind a cloak of political alliance and mutual benefit. Regarding the U.S’s condonation and further assistance, it is just another example of a country that seeks power at the cost of peace and an administration whose integrity is all but lost.
Israel, and more specifically Jerusalem, are cultural and religious hubs for the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions. Any attempt at giving a nation – with a clear religious majority – full or even partial control over such land is undoubtedly going to create conflict. World leaders must find a way to delineate the area through measures that acknowledge Israel’s strength but support an autonomous Palestinian state. Simply handing the keys off to a nation already riddled with corruption and ulterior motives will only lead to the occupation of an already disenfranchised population, not peace and prosperity.