What is Annexation and What Does it Mean for Israel?
Among the items agreed to by the recently-sworn-in coalition was the annexation of around 30% of Area C of the West Bank as early as July 1, a stance which Benny Gantz and Bibi Netanyahu had disagreed for many years and one which has divided the pro-Israel community for years. But what does annexation even mean, and what could it change for Israel?
What is annexation?
Definitionally, annexation is "a formal act whereby a state proclaims its sovereignty over territory hitherto outside its domain. Unlike cession, whereby territory is given or sold through treaty, annexation is a unilateral act made effective by actual possession and legitimized by general recognition." (Encyclopedia Brittanica) Israel's annexing part of the West Bank would entail putting its laws into effect over the land and absorbing it into Israeli sovereignty, but without automatically making residents of the annexed land full citizens of Israel.
Annexing of the West Bank, the Jordan Valley, and other pieces of land has been a talking point of Israeli and foreign politicians for years and decades. In 1967, after the 6-Day War, Israel de facto annexed East Jerusalem, though it wasn't made law until "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel" was passed in 1980. Since then, annexing the West Bank has been a point of right-wing parties in Israel, which see the land as "Judea and Samaria," the biblical home of the Jewish people. Most recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu made annexing the Jordan Valley (and later, the all of Area C) a keystone of his term's policies.
What are the consequences?
Groups such as JStreet and IfNotNow have strongly opposed annexation for years, and many organizations are rallying for the cause now that annexation is imminent. There have been several petitions circulating from teens, college students, gap year alumni, and many others trying to stop this action, but though their voice is loud, Bibi and Gantz have not seemed to concede on this point.
Notably, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke out against the annexation. In a call with members of the American Jewish community, Biden stressed that "Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace.”
Annexing parts of the West Bank could threaten peace, as Biden and others have argued, as it would flex Israel's power over the Palestinians and could inflame tensions between the two parties who could otherwise work toward peace together. In addition, annexation will put Palestinian residents of the annexed area under Israeli governmental rule, but will not become citizens. This sets a dangerous precedent for the treatment and rights of Palestinians in Israel, since they will not be able to vote or enjoy other freedoms associated with citizenship.
The threat of annexation has already caused Mahmoud Abbas to end the PA's security cooperation with Israel, and it's possible that once annexation occurs, peace will drift even further away.
We still have a bit over a month to see what happens in regard to annexation and its effect on peace. Keep reading the news as well as our article to stay stay in the loop!