The Israeli government continues to implement its arbitrary measures against the Palestinians and intends to take advantage of the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in order to annex parts of the Palestinian Territories.
Written by Jehad Harb
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, signed an agreement to form a “national emergency government” in Israel for a period of three years. Palestinians are concerned with the fundamental issue, that is mentioned in paragraphs 28 and 29 of the agreement, which is to annex large parts of the West Bank in line with the ‘peace plan’ that was announced by U.S. President, Donald Trump, in the beginning of 2020. Although the final composition of the coalition has not been determined, i.e. other parties likely to participate in the government, such as the right-wing party or religious parties, the Israeli Supreme Court considered petitions related to Netanyahu’s incapacity to form the government due to his corruption accusations. However, the risks of annexation remain a serious threat to the political process. Any prospects for solutions in the Middle East region are based on these factors: dissolving the two-state solution based on the borders of June 4th, 1967, resolutions consistent with international legitimacy, and the foundations of the peace process.
The seriousness of the terms of the coalition agreement relates to the fact that the central parties in Israel completely support the annexation of large lands from the West Bank, such as the Jordan Valley and settlements. The significant differences between the Likud party and the Blue and White party in terms of method are: Netanyahu wants the annexation and acceleration process according to the American ‘peace plan’ with the ideological thought of the Israeli right, and without any international approval or taking into consideration international claims and the interests of the parties to the conflict. On the other hand, Gantz views the annexation process from a security and military aspect and seeks to obtain international acceptance, or ensure that there is no opposition from international parties, and maintain the peace agreement with Jordan and Egypt. Preferably, the annexation process comes within the framework of a political process with the Palestinians, if available.
The wording of paragraph 28 of the agreement between the two parties shows the determinants of the proposed annexation process, which guarantee each party to confirm its methods and strategies for this annexation. It is stated in paragraph 28 of the coalition agreement that: “With regard to President Trump’s declaration [on the peace plan], the Prime Minister and the Alternate Prime Minister will act in full agreement with the United States, including with the Americans in regard to the maps and with international dialogue on the subject.” Meanwhile, paragraph 29 of the agreements states: “After discussions and consultations are conducted between the Prime Minister and the Alternate Prime Minister based on the principles outlined above, the Prime Minister will be able to bring forward the agreement reached with the United States on the application of sovereignty for debate by the cabinet and government and for approval by the government and/or the Knesset as of July 1, 2020.” It is then indicated in paragraph 29 that: “If the Prime Minister wants to bring his proposal to the Knesset, he can do so through a member of Knesset, provided that [the parliamentarian] is from the Likud faction. A preliminary reading would be held so that the legislation could be amended in conjunction with the wording that the prime minister presented to the cabinet and government.” If the legislation would be sponsored by the government, then the bill would be presented for a preliminary reading and a first reading. The legislation will further be “passed into law in the quickest way possible and in a manner, that would not disrupt or delay the process by the heads of the Knesset Committee and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.”
The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, warned, via video conference during the weekly meeting of the PA Cabinet last Monday, to revoke all signed agreements such as ending the implementation of the Oslo agreement, if Israel proceeds to apply its sovereignty to any part of the West Bank, and threatened to suspend security coordination with Israel and withdraw Palestinian recognition of Israel. According to the results of an opinion poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in February 2020, there is wide support from the Palestinian public with 84% saying they agree to withdraw recognition of the State of Israel, 77% support the ending of security coordination with Israel, and 69% support ending the implementation of the Oslo agreement.
I believe that this is the final chance the Palestinian leadership has, especially as the poll results show that a vast majority of 82% indicate that, in light of the US administration’s plan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has returned to becoming a struggle for existence. 85% of respondents of the poll stated that they support the diplomatic fight against Israel, and for international organizations to respond to the “Deal of the Century” which includes the annexation of lands from the West Bank; 78% said they support resorting to peaceful demonstrations; and 64% support resorting to armed struggled.
It seems that there is a loss of hope for a political solution that is based on the two-state solution, as 61% of the Palestinian public believes that the two-state solution is no longer practical due to the Israeli settlement expansion. Likewise, 76% say that the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, next to Israel, in the next five years are either slim or very slim. The Israeli government continues to implement its arbitrary measures against the Palestinians and intends to take advantage of the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in order to annex parts of the Palestinian Territories. As a result, this would cause an explosion of violence that threatens peace and security in the Middle East, which is the most likely to occur in these times.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.