Israel is considering whether to annex large parts of the West Bank as early as July 1, with the U.S. government supporting and coordinating the annexation. What does this mean? How will this impact the daily lives of Palestinians and the prospect for peace?
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- Under President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan, Israel would annex some 30 percent of the West Bank, then negotiate with Palestinians about the future of the rest if they meet various criteria set by Israel and the U.S.
- Specifically, Israel would annex all or part of Area C, some 60 percent of the West Bank, while leaving Areas A and B to Palestinians. The peace process since Oslo set up an Area A of major Palestinian cities, Area B of smaller Palestinian towns, and Area C as mostly Palestinian villages and farmland, but also Israel’s settlements and military bases.
- The purpose is to annex as many Israeli settlements and land, and as few Palestinian residents, as possible. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians would be left in Areas A and B. Around 2.6 million people, not being annexed, would have no rights in Israel. No citizenship and no other rights either, as they would be foreigners. These leftover Areas A and B would be an archipelago of non-contiguous bantustans, spread around only 40 percent of the West Bank’s land.
- Without that contiguity, without any link to the outside world save through Israel, and without the other 60 percent of their land, this vast majority of West Bank Palestinians would be condemned to destitution. Eventual statehood for those millions is not guaranteed in Trump’s plan or Israel’s, and it would be a failed state economically anyway.
- The far fewer 10-15 percent of West Bank Palestinians now living in Area C, still hundreds of thousands, would have other problems. Domestic Israeli law would allow broader confiscation of their lands, much like land has been confiscated in annexed East Jerusalem. It is unclear whether Israel would offer them citizenship, but with or without it they would be discriminated against as the Arab citizens of Israel, and permanent residents in East Jerusalem, already are.
- Area C annexation is not a viable or just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s settlers would certainly gain more control over their own lives. Palestinians would have even less control than they have now. Their social, economic and cultural ties would be broken up, and movement between Palestinian areas would become even more difficult than today. Oppression would be the certainty for West Bank Palestinians, as Israelis keep control of many aspects of their lives whether annexed inside Israel or left outside Israel (as in Gaza).
CMEP and many other groups are asking supporters to oppose this prescription for violence and oppression. The House has passed a resolution against U.S. support for annexation. CMEP member denominations, House members and Senate members have each written open letters opposing, as have 127 British MPs. Now it is time for our Churches to rise up. Click the button below to email your members of Congress.
Thursday, June 4: 11am-12pm Eastern: Palestinian Voices: Annexation and its impact on the Christian Community in Israel/Palestine
- For this first webinar, we are thrilled to hear from Rev. Isaac and Father Khader, who recently co-authored a powerful op-ed in Haaretz on the devastating impact annexation will have for the future of the Christian community in Palestine. Learn more about how Christian leaders in Palestine are responding to the possibility of annexation.
Thursday, June 11: 1-2pm Eastern: Why should Christians in the pews care about annexation and Palestinian human rights?
- Hear from Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans of the Christian Reformed Church and Rev. David Andrews, of The Episcopal Church, on why it is critical for Christians to care about the situation in Israel-Palestine, especially now with annexation looming.
- Area C annexation became a mainstream idea in Israeli politics fairly recently, from just before the Trump administration. Many Israelis oppose, as do Palestinians. Enter Trump.
- President Trump appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to build a Plan with David Friedman (who became U.S. Ambassador to Israel) and Jason Greenblatt.
- While they were working on the plan with PM Netanyahu’s Israeli government, the Trump administration set about removing other longstanding aspects from U.S. peace process policy. They closed the Palestinians’ diplomatic office in the U.S., withheld first some and then all humanitarian and economic assistance to Palestinians, ended U.S. support for UNRWA that provides schooling and food to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza and across the Middle East, recognized Israeli annexations of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, and moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
- These moves pleased many Israelis as taking their side against Palestinians. Then President Trump’s “peace” plan – – the economic part released in June 2019 and the political part in January 2020 – – fit Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Area C annexation ideas, and he and Israeli opposition leader Gantz endorsed Trump’s plan before Israel’s March 2 election.
- That Israeli election essentially ended in a draw, and Gantz decided to join Netanyahu in a coalition government. Their coalition agreement calls for Annexation to be presented to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as early as July 1.
- As part of the Trump plan, in February 2020 the U.S. government formed a joint commission with Israel to map out what parts of Area C are to be immediately annexed by Israel. Palestinians have no say, indeed ordinary Israelis have no say in the matter.
Why Area C annexation (and the Trump plan) won’t work. American Prospect, 2020.
Hanan Ashrawi on the Trump administration steps toward annexation. Washington Post, 2019.
A roundup of differing opinions on whether international opposition will affect annexation. Times of Israel, 2020.
The US-Israel mapping commission is deciding what Israel will annex. Times of Israel, 2020.
Secretary Pompeo saying that annexation is for Israelis to decide. Jerusalem Post, 2020.
The Israeli coalition April agreement on July 1 annexation. Jerusalem Post, 2020.
“Will Israel’s New Government Pursue Annexation?” by Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS) Nimrod Novik and journalist Tal Shalev. A long video analysis on Israeli annexation politics and how annexation would work on the ground for Palestinians and Israelis. Ends with discussing U.S. funding for annexation. J Street, 2020.
Naftali Bennett and other settler reps began proposing Area C-only annexation in 2012. They did so in the Government of Israel from 2016. Washington Post, 2016.
A Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Holy Land Churches on Israeli Unilateral Annexation Plans, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, May 7, 2020
WCC and MECC Joint Letter to the European Union, May 11, 2020
Opinion: Donald Trump Is Complicit in a Catastrophe for Christians, Munther Isaac and Jamal Khader, Haaretz, May 6, 2020 [May require subscription]
Join us in solidarity with #ChurchesAgainstAnnexation by printing out the campaign graphic or creating your own and posting pictures of you individually and with groups on social media. Consider hosting a Zoom small group gathering so you can be in a picture together! Be sure to use #ChurchesAgainstAnnexation and tag us in your post – @ChurchesforMEP – on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Invite others to join the campaign. Share with friends, small groups, your community, and your church and welcome them to participate in #ChurchesAgainstAnnexation. Social media is a great way to raise awareness around this issue.