U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was on point this week when he declared that, given certain circumstances, Israel “has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”
Let’s not forget the not-so-distant past when Israeli PM’s Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak all but offered the kitchen sink to the Palestinian Authority, only to have the Israeli peace initiatives turned down probably because they didn’t include a Palestinian right of return, a non-starter.
Yes, we are all awaiting President Donald J. Trump’s peace plan, but in the meantime it is appropriate for Friedman to talk annexation of certain areas, which we would assume to be located mostly in area C of the West Bank.
A quick West Bank primer: Area A is controlled politically and militarily by the PA, except for about 20% of the holy city of Hebron.
Area B is under joint Israeli and Palestinian jurisdiction.
Area C is under Israeli jurisdiction and includes well-populated Jewish areas such as Gush Etzion, Tekoa, Kiryat Arba, Beit El and others. Over 350,000 Jews live in this area. It makes sense economically and strategically for these areas to not only remain under Israeli control but also to be annexed by, or part of, Israel. The same could be said of the Palestinian town of Ramallah: it should be unquestionably under PA control should the Palestinians ever see fit to agree to a peace agreement with Israel. And that’s a hope that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it a campaign promise prior to the April 9 elections that Israel would begin to annex West Bank areas. These would follow the annexation of the Golan Heights in March. That annexation of the strategic territory bordering Syria was critical and unarguable when it came to Israel’s defense.
We suggest that when one mentions areas such as Efrat, Tekoa, Ma’ale Adumim and many others, the time has come to understand what has been fact for over 50 years: these are Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria and should be recognized as such.
There are important areas of Israel. They should be officially annexed.