Stop the hubris – annexation is important for Israel, not Trump

What Israel does will be important to Israelis, the Palestinians and maybe some other actors in the region. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Israel and annexation won’t play a role on November 3

THE WEST BANK town of Efrat, with Bethlehem in the background. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE WEST BANK town of Efrat, with Bethlehem in the background.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Humility is never a bad thing. Even for a country. 
There is a feeling among some in Israel that America needs an Israeli annexation in the West Bank to happen. To be more exact: that Donald Trump, facing a tough re-election campaign against former vice president Joe Biden, needs Israel to annex territory in the West Bank to shore up votes. 
It is an idea primarily being pushed by settler leaders like head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan, who has made a name for himself as the fiercest opponent to the Trump peace plan and the government’s intention to annex only some parts of Judea and Samaria. 
Dagan has been hammering away at that message for months, including Thursday morning, when he told a radio interviewer that Trump needs annexation to rally his base. 
Truth is, Trump really doesn’t. 
There are six principal characters in the US who have varying degrees of involvement in annexation: Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, special envoy Avi Berkowitz, and of course, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his top adviser Aryeh Lightstone, a member of the mapping committee. 
The first three are currently dealing with four critical issues: riots on the streets of America in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing; the continued health crisis caused by COVID-19; a projected 53% fall in GDP in the second quarter in the US; and something small called a re-election in five months. Annexation doesn’t even make it into the room, let alone onto the agenda. 
Friedman, Lightstone and Berkowitz are different. They are the three officials whose portfolio is singularly focused on Israel and the Trump peace deal. But even they understand the complicated reality and the limited bandwidth that exists right now in Washington to tackle any problems that arise around the Deal of the Century. 
For Dagan and others to think that this is what will determine the election is nothing more than hubris. Can he possibly rally some Evangelicals to lobby some congressmen or administration officials? Maybe. 
But if they don’t succeed in getting Dagan what he wants and he remains opposed to the plan, are those Americans suddenly going to vote for Biden? Are they going to stay home in Texas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin because only Ma’ale Adumim was annexed and not the land where the former settlement of Homesh once stood?
America is facing a crisis unlike any seen in living history. There are more than 100,000 people dead from coronavirus, more than two million infected, tens of millions remain unemployed, there is violence on the streets – and the election is just around the corner. 
What Israel does in the next few weeks will be important to Israelis, the Palestinians and maybe some other actors in the region. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Israel and annexation won’t play a role on November 3.