Opinion: The cost of unilateral annexation in the West Bank, which would mean alienating allies and partners around the world, outweighs the benefits of diminishing the risk of a future Palestinian state

When Benjamin Netanyahu first ran for prime minister in 1996, his campaign slogan was “Netanyahu is good for the Jews.”

Now, as he is set to embark on his unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank, it seems an opportune moment to put the same slogan to the test in order assess the costs and benefits of this plan.

The Judean Desert and the settlement of Kfar Adumim
The Judean Desert and the settlement of Kfar Adumim (Photo: David Saban)


From my home in the settlement of Kfar Adumim, I can see the Judean Desert all the way to the Dead Sea; I have a clear view of the Jerusalem-Jericho road to the east and the territory from the Jordanian border to the capital to the west.

I live on the cusp of Wadi Qelt as it traverses the West Bank, separating Judea to the south from Samaria to the north.

Indeed, Israeli annexation would surely diminish the chances of seeing a Palestinian state that could pose a security threat to Israel – and this would certainly be a benefit.

Still, Israel has had control of this land for more than 53 years without having annexed any of it, and a one-sided move is no guarantee that future land negotiations with the Palestinians will not include this part of the West Bank as well.

Muslims in East Jerusalem pray outdoors during Ramadan
Muslims in East Jerusalem pray outdoors during Ramadan, due to coronavirus regulations (Photo: AFP)


Despite East Jerusalem being annexed as far back as 1967, Israeli governments negotiated with their Palestinian partners over the city’s boundaries and despite the Golan Heights being annexed in 1981, Israel had held negotiations with the Syrian regime over that territory’s future as well.

Therefore, it is only partially true to say that annexation would be beneficial for Israel’s future position should negotiations resume with any regional partner.

And what of the cost?

In the short term, we may see the deterioration of relations with the Palestinian Authority, resulting in an outbreak of violence that would put the lives of Israelis living on the West Bank at risk.

זירת הפיגוע בגבעת אסף בנימין
Israeli security forces at the scene of a terror attack in the West Bank in 2018 (Photo: EPA)


Israel’s improving relations with Arab nations – something of strategic importance – could take a turn for the worse.

The security Israel now enjoys as a result of its peace agreement with Jordan and the warming of relations with the Gulf states – through the shared strategic need to stop the Iranian threat- could be compromised.

Israel would do well to listen to what its allies in the region and beyond, including Jordan, the Gulf States and the U.S., say about the planned annexation: .

And what of Israel’s standing in the rest of the world? How would that fair from Netanyahu’s move?

Good relations with the president of the U.S. are of major importance, but would it be wise of Israel to rely on this friendship alone?
The probable Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who is currently leading in the polls for the November election, has already condemned the move.

בנימין נתניהו פגישה עם אנגלה מרקל ב ברלין גרמניה
Benjamin Netanyahu and Angela Merkel meeting in Berlin (Photo: GPO)


Israel cannot ignore the position of the EU, which is the market for one-third of its exports, or the warnings of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, txhe head of the only country that has sold Israel its much-needed submarines.

And this probable harm to Israel’s foreign relations (and by extension its security) would be followed by economic damage as well. What social services would the state be willing to cut if revenue from exports is reduced and the foreign investments dry up?

Yet the major cost of a one-sided annexation of parts of the West Bank is in the long-term.

Any annexation that would prevent a future agreement with the Palestinians would weigh heavily on Israel and could lead to its demise; Israel’s Jewish and Democratic nature would be unsustainable when millions of Palestinians are counted among its residents.

הפגנה מחאה שמאל נגד סיפוח שטחים דמוקרטיה כיכר רבין תל אביב
Israelis protest in Tel Aviv against West Bank annexation (Photo: AFP)


The cost of caring for such an increase in population would also fall on the shoulders of the next generation. And if Israel chooses prolonged conflict with its neighbors who will provide strategic support after the state has alienated so many of its friends around the world?

Proponents of this plan claim they want to secure Israel’s future, but by imposing changes to the decades of facts on the ground they run the risk of destroying it.

As reported by Ynetnews