Area C: ‘Occupation’ or annexation

A general view picture shows houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank February 15, 2017 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
A general view picture shows houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank February 15, 2017
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
The failure to resolve the conflict between Israel and Arab Palestinians has left the government with only two options regarding the “military occupation” of Judea and Samaria’s (the “West Bank”) Area C: either continue the current military administration of the area by the IDF/COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), the sovereign power in the area, or extend Israeli sovereignty there – annexation. This reality is not only a political issue; it affects Israel’s economy and its survival. It is, above all, a humanitarian issue.
Continuing to build and extend Jewish communities (“settlements”) in Area C without clearly defining to whom the area belongs does not avoid condemnations of Israel by the international community, but rather invites criticism.
Moreover, as long as the government is ambiguous about the status of Area C, it defies reality and jeopardizes the future of these communities. If Israel does not claim ownership of Area C and extend sovereignty over it, the logical conclusion is that it is part of “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (OPT).
In addition, this ambiguity, encourages those who propose that Area C – including its settlements – be taken over by the Palestinian Authority (PA), along with eastern Jerusalem, thereby moving Israel’s boundaries back to the 1949 armistice lines and establishing a second (or perhaps third in Gaza) sovereign Palestinian state. Not only would this be a strategic security disaster and imperil Jews living there, but it will also have serious political and economic ramifications.
It would mean that Jews would no longer be permitted to build in their communities there, since approval would be denied by the PA. Jewish communities and the roads between them would be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. PA-controlled checkpoints would cripple Israel’s transportation system. Tourism would plummet. Ben-Gurion Airport and major population centers would be within short missile range of PA territory. Israel would no longer control access to water aquifers and resources; this would affect Israel’s entire economic system. Housing prices would increase drastically, since less land would be available for growth.
Ironically, withdrawal of Israeli control would condemn Arab Palestinians to Hamas control and promote violent power struggles between warring Muslim factions. This chaotic situation would enable other countries and Islamic militants in the region to join the conflict and would likely destabilize the entire region. In addition, it would further Syrian aspirations to recover the Golan Heights, and encourage Islamic militants – such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah – to continue attacking Israel.
This scenario is the danger of the “two-state-solution” (TSS). The TSS would not resolve any Arab and Palestinian objections to Israel’s existence as declared in the PLO Covenant and Hamas Charter; it would neither change their fundamental narrative of the Nakba, and the “Right-of-Return” for Arab “refugees,” nor their demand that Israel return to the UN-proposed plan of 1947. The TSS means, therefore, ending Israel’s existence.
On the other hand, declaring Israeli sovereignty over Area C – annexation – would confirm and protect the right of Jews to live in their homeland and it would promote a constructive, productive future for all residents of the area. It would eliminate the “military occupation” by the IDF/COGAT. It would allow Israel’s security forces to apprehend terrorists in PA towns and cities. It would strengthen Israel’s security and would enable Arabs in the area to live in peace and enjoy economic and social benefits.
Opposing annexation, however, does not and will not prevent Israel’s enemies from denouncing “the occupation” and engaging in anti-Israel activities. And, the issue of “settlements” continues to fracture Israeli society and diminish our national cohesion. It’s a “lose-lose” strategy.
Although Israeli leftists oppose annexation, they offer no reasonable or practical alternative. Moreover, they are oblivious to the consequences of not annexing Area C. Opposing the implementation of civilian Israeli authority (annexation) and continuing the “military occupation” of Area C, therefore, serves no one; it makes no sense.
Israeli leftists have a responsibility and obligation to explain how their plan would work. Refusing to do so means that they are not serious and don’t care about the damage they cause. Do they stand with Israel and Zionism, or not? Are they with us, or against us (meaning the vast majority of Jews in Israel)? Jewish communities in Area C are facts of life. Abandoning them is not an option. The choice, therefore, is simple: Annexation or “Occupation” – sovereignty or self-defeat.
The writer is a PhD historian, writer and journalist living in Israel.