Annexation Plan in Light of Covid-19

The land of Palestine has always dreamed of peace, but today it seems that it is far from this peace.

Written by Khalil Abu Karsh

Despite the gradual appearance of the Coronavirus in Israel and the government’s concern to combat this pandemic – as well as the rest of the world – which is hitting the economy hard,  affecting production and the movement of individuals and institutions, as well the various complications regarding the formation of the government, the Israeli government did not miss the opportunity to take advantage of this crisis to continue its annexation project, aimed at exhausting the Palestinians and pushing them to give up their right to self-determination.

During the Coronavirus crisis, a senior official in the Israeli Ministry of Health demanded to medically annex areas of the West Bank under the pretext of combating the spread of Covid-19 because the Palestinian health system is worn out and will not be able to cope with this pandemic. It’s important to note here that the Israeli Ministry of Health is still failing in its procedures to confront the pandemic inside Israel. Also, one of the Israeli officials mentioned that Israel needs to control the Jordan Valley region in order to prevent the widespread transmission of any future diseases from abroad.

The Israeli parties reached an agreement on forming a new government, after three electoral rounds, during which neither of the competing parties or blocs were able to form a government. The disputes that prevented the formation were not related to Netanyahu’s policies; but rather about his behavior. This reveals an Israeli shift to the right, which is evidently due to the increase in the number of Knesset members and the decline in the representation of left-wing and center parties. During the negotiations that took place between Netanyahu and Gantz to form a government, it was agreed that the government’s plan includes the application of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank on the first of July (that is, after a few weeks), which will happen according to the agreement with the United States on the previously agreed upon lands. Netanyahu will present this to the government for approval, and then submit it to the Knesset for a vote. Everything that the Israeli government plans to implement, supported by the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ and the American assumptions to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is related to the colonial project in the Palestinian Territories and the annexation of lands without any residents.

Our belief stems from the fact that plans for displacement and settlement expansion have existed for a long time with the Israeli decision-makers, where the question revolves around how and when is the appropriate timing for implementation. As the world and region are occupied with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will not pay much attention to what the Israeli government may carry out in implementing political provisions of the so-called ‘Deal of the Century.’ According to the United States Secretary of State, the annexation of the West Bank is a purely Israeli affair.

Within a few weeks, we may find ourselves faced with a new reality that is imposed on us which contradicts all the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO, and threatens the endeavors of all international European and non-European partners who believed in the peace process and the need to settle the conflict through negotiations. Their efforts, investments, and plans that they have or will implement may go unheeded. This is also an opportunity to test the extent of the international community’s ability to implement its belief in peace and to defend their approaches, for which they have invested so much.

I conclude my article by saying that the Israeli government is seeking today to implement what it has worked on in previous years, as it has never stopped creating a new geopolitical reality in the West Bank that leads to their control. The Palestinian decision-makers must fully realize that confronting this does not merely mean to turn to international forums for their importance, but rather, to adopt a plan of action aimed at destroying the Israeli plan by confirming Palestinian demands with facts on the ground. The spread of the Coronavirus reduced the gap between the decision maker and the Palestinian people. This pushes me to confront the upcoming annexation project and build a national strategy that enshrines the Palestinian right to self-determination, in accordance with international legitimacy that lights up the future path. This land has always dreamed of peace, but today it seems that it is far from this peace.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.

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