Prepared by: Alya Abdel Rahman Mustafa Ahmed Makled – Arab Democratic Center
It is no secret that the Middle East is one of the most conflict-ridden regions, and perhaps the most prominent of these conflicts is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the latest development of which is the Israeli plan to annex Palestinian lands in the West Bank, and this dangerous development cannot be dealt with in isolation from the historical context that The Oslo Agreement is an integral part of it.
In this context, the study provides an analysis of the expected scenarios for the future of the annexation plan, which constitutes a milestone in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, by clarifying and reviewing the Israeli annexation plan, the official reactions to it, and scenarios for its implementation.
First, the Oslo Agreement:
As a result of the Palestinian uprising in 1987, a new Palestinian reality was formed that led to the emergence of new political forces and the Palestinians crossed themselves, forcing Israel to sit at the negotiating table and as a result of that was the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which formed and the subsequent agreements that followed a new path in the Palestinian conflict. After the conflict was limited to the military side and based on direct armed confrontation, the agreement established a basis for interaction between the two parties, which is for the two parties to recognize each other and sit at the negotiating table to reach a final solution.
Second, the Israeli annexation plan :
The plan expresses the actual implementation of Trump’s plan on the ground, using force, and aims at one of the following points:
- Inclusion of settlement areas only: which constitute 4% of the area of the West Bank, or the outline plan for settlements, which occupies an area of 10% of the area of the West Bank.
- Include the settlement blocs west of the wall.
- Annexation of the Jordan Valley, which represents 17% of the area of the West Bank.
- Inclusion of the areas mentioned in the Trump plan, which constitute 30% of the West Bank.
- Inclusion of areas classified in Area “C”, which constitute 60% of the area of the West Bank (1).
However, the final features of the annexation plan have not yet been determined, as none of these items will be implemented and any of them will be postponed or delayed. Some diplomats and analysts believe that the plan may be something called “simple annexation”, which could be Includes: Imposing Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the large settlements near the Green Line.
It is worth noting that the plan is still in the theoretical stage, and no final envision has been drawn up on the maps. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office is analyzing various possibilities and communicating with the United States. Israel Hayom reported that the Israeli plan obliges the Israeli side in the first stage to implement Sovereignty over settlements outside the large blocs in Judea and Samaria, or about 10% of the land, in exchange for 30% permitted by Trump’s Middle East peace plan.
Third, the reaction to the Israeli opposition:
The leader of the Israeli opposition, “Yair Lapid,” announced that he would oppose any plan to implement unilateral annexation in the West Bank, considering that such a step implies irresponsibility in terms of security, and Lapid warned that imposing Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley would affect – To a large extent – with the peace agreement signed with Amman, and he said that “it is self-evident that this region remains under the control of Israel, and there is no need to make statements that we are indispensable to,” and affirmed his support for the two-state solution with the necessity to build a large wall between them (2).
Fourth, the international position:
It can be said that there is almost an international consensus – which Washington has departed from – to condemn the Israeli plans as reducing the chances of peace in the Middle East and in violation of international law, but these positions are merely condemnations and warnings of the possibility of considering punitive measures.
As for the position of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the Emirates, they said that Israel’s implementation of the annexation plans would threaten warm relations with it, while the Jordanian monarch, “King Abdullah II”, hinted that such a decision would lead to a major clash with Jordan.
The Palestinian position and the Palestine Liberation Organization: President “Mahmoud Abbas” announced that Palestine will be free from all agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and from all the obligations they entail, including security, while Hamas considers the decision tantamount to declaring war on the Palestinian people.
This is while we find that there are divisions among the Israeli leaderships themselves: Netanyahu’s partner in the government coalition and the Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, stated that he opposes starting the annexation procedures unilaterally, stressing that at least he wants to ensure that the Jordanian monarch does not oppose the plan, while we find some currents The hard-line Israeli right does not want to be satisfied with “30%” of the West Bank and rejects the existence of a Palestinian state inside the West Bank from the ground up.
The Russian position / European Union: Russia still supports the two-state solution and rejects Israel’s decision to annex the West Bank, and the European Union has condemned that this will lead to a new round of violence between the two parties.
The Egyptian position: Egypt welcomes the resumption of negotiations related to the two-state solution and rejects the Israeli annexation plans. This was stated by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Palestinian Presidency in Ramallah, stressing Egypt’s endeavor to find the appropriate framework in accordance with international legitimacy decisions, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
And based on the clarification of the various international positions towards the Israeli annexation plan, we find that there is almost unanimity to reject the plan and support the two-state solution.
Fifth, expected scenarios:
- In the event that “Joe Biden” reaches the US presidency:
It can be said in general that the Democrats are opposed to any unilateral move by either side, including annexation, which undermines the prospects for the establishment of two states, which was indicated in the draft of the 2020 Democratic Party program, while Biden announced another vision based on The “two-state solution” is close to Clinton’s concepts and ideas and Arab and Palestinian ideas toward resolving the conflict. The democrats offer other conditions and concepts for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (3).
Therefore, Netanyahu sees the annexation plan as a historical opportunity that should not be missed, so he is trying until this moment to settle his orientations and implement part of his plans before November 2020, as the American elections in which Trump’s popularity declined, and the chances of his democratic rival and opponent to join Joe Biden increased (4) .
The British “Middle East Eye” website published a report, which revealed that “the Israeli lobby collides with democrats in the United States over the plan of Israeli Prime Minister” Benjamin Netanyahu “to annex the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
On the third side, the report prepared by journalist Ali Harb stated that “the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which considers itself bipartisan, is leading a campaign to oppose the efforts made by the Democratic members of Congress to block the annexation plan.”
And a group of Democratic senators had amended an amendment to the US military budget for 2021, which includes a ban on using American funds to “spread materials, services, or military training” in areas that are annexed within the West Bank or that facilitate the annexation process, and thus it is clear that the arrival of the Democratic Party To come to power means withdrawing from support for the annexation plan, or at least postponing it.
2) The arrival of “Donald Trump” to the US presidency:
While the Democrats, in one way or another, oppose giving the green light to start implementing the annexation plan, the Republican Party strongly supports its implementation. It should be noted that the Trump administration did not explicitly approve the annexation plan, and on two occasions Pompeo evaded answering questions on the subject. During the past few months, he said that the matter was an “Israeli decision.”
However, critics of Netanyahu’s plan assert that annexation is far from being a mere Israeli affair because it violates the basic rules of international law that prohibits the seizure of land by force (5). Most of the Republicans in the House of Representatives have approved Netanyahu’s plan, and supported Israeli leaders in “taking sovereign decisions in a manner.” Independent of any external pressure. “
* Regarding the Israeli interior:
As Deputy Prime Minister, “Gantz” will be able to obstruct any foreign and domestic policies and obstruct Netanyahu’s more extreme anti-Arab efforts, an example of which is Netanyahu’s threat to unilaterally expand Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, which he announced after President Trump announced his plan to solve the Israeli issue – The Palestinian Authority, and “Gantz” did not support unilaterally annexing the West Bank, and only said that he would agree to that if there is an international consensus on that, and most observers believe that there is no such international consensus, so it appears that Netanyahu, as prime minister in a unity government , It should not be able to unilaterally fulfill its threat of annexation.
Moreover, Israeli observers indicate that any unilateral annexation will require the deployment of many Israeli forces in the West Bank to maintain order, and Israeli forces usually hate this duty, and Gantz, as a retired general, knows for sure that the annexation will lead to serious resistance. From the army, so it is unlikely that he would agree.
Gantz is likely to block or mitigate some of Netanyahu’s more radical policies, which are supported by the Israeli right and the settlers, and also, because Gantz ran an election campaign with the support of the Arab bloc, he is unlikely to be overtly anti-Arab like Netanyahu, although how It is unclear in which this trend will emerge. (6)
Sixth: The implications of annexation:
- Security implications:
The security implications here are not related to improving or increasing the security capabilities of “Israel” for tactical and strategic control. The entire West Bank is currently under such control, and therefore the formal or legal annexation will not increase “Israel” power to its power, but rather may expose the strength it possesses And a stable and clear strategic capability. This matter may be the main motivation for reservations (and sometimes even rejection), which is expressed by most of the military and security leaders in “Israel” for the unilateral annexation plan, according to what was confirmed by former leaders and generals such as Giora Island, Amos Yadlin, and Amos Gilad, who specifically mentioned The dangers of annexing the Jordan Valley to the “wonderful security relations with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the successful security coordination with the Palestinian Authority”, where “Israel” enjoys an unprecedented achievement, and with a strategic depth from the White Sea to Jordan and Iraq, which provides it with calm and stability from “terrorism.” And military threats (7).
- Political implications:
Observers and researchers unanimously agree that the annexation process of parts of the West Bank will have consequences, effects and political repercussions on the Palestinians, Israelis and the region, and the most important of these repercussions are: eliminating any possibility of a political settlement between the Palestinians and the occupation state based on what is known as the two-state solution, canceling the Oslo agreement signed in 1993, and promoting ideas And the visions and positions of the hard-line Israeli right, which is based on joining rather than seceding, and strengthening the Jewish state at the expense of democracy. (8)
- Economic implications:
The economic costs of the annexation, according to the research carried out for the “Commanders for Israel’s Security” association headed by General Amnon Reshef, will amount to about $ 2.1 billion annually, from which about $ 0.5 billion can be deducted from the increase of state revenues from the annexation. The annexation will also lead, at its worst, to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, and a new round of combat with Gaza, to bring 30,000 reserve soldiers into the West Bank, at a cost of about $ 1.1 billion.
And about $ 2.6 billion to confront the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, and the civil services that Israel will have to provide to the Palestinians in the annexed areas (9).
Among the expected economic costs and risks, the possible international and European sanctions that will leave against “Israel”; As a result of its decision contrary to international law, which eliminates the possibility of an internationally supported political settlement, which Amos Yadlin pointed out, “threatens Europe, which is an essential trading partner of Israel, and thus affects economic cooperation with it, and China is not an alternative to Europe; Because any increase in cooperation with it will further strain relations with America ”(10).
In summary, regarding the foregoing, the consequences of the Palestinian uprising and the Oslo Agreement are still influencing the path of Palestinian-Israeli relations to the present day, and important issues are still under negotiations, perhaps the most prominent of which are (refugees – Israeli settlements – Jerusalem).
Trump’s peace plan, which is still a subject of controversy, is rejected by the Arabs and Trump seeks to achieve it, and which represents the framework through which the Israeli annexation plan is implemented.
The world is still awaiting the developments of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the international community is pressing the parties to convince them that the two-state solution is the best and achieves peace in the Middle East.
From the course of events, it appears to us that there is an internal division in the American and Israeli political circles. We find that the Israeli right supports annexation, while the Israeli center, led by “Gantz”, opposes annexation in the absence of international support for that step, and this division we see as we explained between the Republican and Democratic parties, It is clear that the future of the annexation and conflict plan in general is affected by the directions of US foreign policy.
- An electronic campaign to reject the Israeli annexation plan … What is the plan and what are its proposed stages?
2) The leader of the Israeli opposition declares his position on the annexation plan
(3) The Democratic Party candidate for the US elections will not support the annexation plan
(4) Abdel Nasser Issa, The Israeli Annexation of Parts of the West Bank: Motives, Scenarios, and Implications, Al-Zaytuna Center for Studies and Consultations, 7/8/2020
(5) The Israeli lobby clashes with the democrats over the annexation
6) The new Israeli government .. Will Gantz ease Netanyahu’s policies? https://cutt.us/eQhgU
(7) Abdel Nasser Issa, reference already mentioned
(8) Abdel Nasser Issa, reference already mentioned
(9) Nasser Nasser, bulletin according to sources, Economic Attaché, Civilizations Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 15/4/2019
(10) Amos Yadlin, The Costs of Annexation, Yediot Aharonot, 6/4/2020, p.20.