Israel’s next election must focus on Judea and Samaria – not Bibi

January 8, 2020 by David Singer
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Israel’s next election due on 2 March 2020 must focus on the future of Judea and Samaria – not the future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi).

A window of opportunity has been granted to allow Israel to extend its sovereignty into Judea and Samaria following US Secretary of State Pompeo’s statement on 19 November 2019:

“Turning now to Israel, the Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements.

US public statements on settlement activities in the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades. In 1978, the Carter administration categorically concluded that Israel’s establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn’t believe that the settlements were inherently illegal.

Subsequent administrations recognized that unrestrained settlement activity could be an obstacle to peace, but they wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn’t advance peace. However, in December 2016, at the very end of the previous administration, Secretary Kerry changed decades of this careful, bipartisan approach by publicly reaffirming the supposed illegality of settlements.

After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

The United Nations General Assembly will object to any such unilateral extension of Israel’s sovereignty. However, it will unequivocally delineate the minimum area in Judea and Samaria which Israel will be claiming in any future negotiations with Arab interlocutors to end the 100 years old Arab-Jewish conflict.

For these outcomes to occur – all political parties contesting Israel’s next election need to bring before the electorate their respective parties detailed proposals on the extension of Israeli sovereignty into:

  • the whole,
  • part or
  • none

of Judea and Samaria – accompanied by a map designating the areas in which Israeli sovereignty will be extended if they form part of Israel’s next Government.

For far too long Israelis have been at loggerheads with each other as to the extension of Israeli sovereignty into Judea and Samaria. The opportunity to resolve this political logjam during Donald Trump’s Presidency must not be lost.

Should another election deadlock occur for the third time in twelve months – the proposals presented by the respective parties for Judea and Samaria can be the basis for negotiations to form a Government of National Unity.

There will be critics who claim that Israel should not reveal its cards before negotiations actually begin with Arab interlocutors – that by doing so Israel will stymie itself from demanding more of Judea and Samaria.

All proposals should, therefore, include a rider that the area proposed is the minimum area of Judea and Samaria willing to be accepted in future negotiations and may be increased should changed circumstances to those now prevailing exist when negotiations are undertaken.

Political parties not prepared to inform voters of their proposals can expect to be given the thumbs down by the Israeli electorate. Those who are open and frank in presenting their proposals should find themselves rewarded by the electorate.

Politicians need to resist the temptation to focus their major attention on targeting Bibi – Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister – from becoming Israel’s next Prime Minister as he personally grapples with three indictments laid against him by Attorney General Mandelblit.

Israel’s national interest must incontrovertibly prevail.

Crunch time for Judea and Samaria has arrived – 100 years after reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in Palestine was first proposed internationally at the 1920 San Remo Conference.

Realising that a 100-year-old dream should be Israel’s paramount objective.

Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators –  whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and foundation member of the International Analysts Network

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