CIS welcomes any effort to renew the national discussion over the necessity of separating from the Palestinians in a two-state agreement, and the prime minister’s endorsement of this solution. However, the Movement warns against any attempt to use the initiative for unilateral annexation.
Whether the American initiative serves as a basis for future negotiations – which Israel will enter after the prime minister accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state over 70% of the West Bank and additional 14% of sovereign Israeli territory – or should future conditions for negotiations with the Palestinians result in a different Israeli approach, CIS warns against any attempt to exploit the initiative for a unilateral annexation move.
There is no risk-free unilateral annexation.
The situation does not justify – and certainly does not require – taking unnecessary security risks.
Any unilateral annexation – of a single settlement bloc, all settlements, or the Jordan Valley – undermines Israel’s security:
- Annexation will destabilize the already sensitive relations with Jordan, its regime stability, and bilateral security coordination. The importance of security coordination with Jordan to Israel’s national security, in deterrence, early warning, and in thwarting acts of terror and state aggression from adversaries such as Iran, cannot be overstated. It will be utterly irresponsible to undermine a primary Israeli security interest and bring those risks closer to our border.
- Annexation might bring about the end of security coordination with the Palestinian Authority and possibly its very collapse. Whether this will be due to a Palestinian leadership decision or be forced upon it by popular pressure, terror groups – first among them Hamas – will fill the ensuing security vacuum. To prevent their takeover, the IDF will be forced to reoccupy the entire West Bank. Thereafter, Israel will be responsible for managing the lives of 2.6 million Palestinians. Much of the IDF and Shin Bet’s attention will have to be dedicated to this mission, at the expense of preparedness for security challenges to the north (Syria, Lebanon), east (Iran) and south (Hamas). All this with no exit strategy from the trap of a bi-national state.
- Annexation is expected to increase the level of violence from Gaza, both directly and via the West Bank. This will force the IDF to reoccupy Gaza as well and to run the lives of its two million Palestinians. Here too with no exit strategy.
CIS supports the annexation of major settlement blocs as part of an agreement with the Palestinians.
But what is a legitimate demand in negotiations is likely to prove destructive when done unilaterally.
Regardless of our judgement of any facet of the American initiative, it incorporate two unacceptable precedents:
- Abandoning over 14,000 Israelis, residents of 15 isolated settlements, at the heart of the territory earmarked for the State of Palestine. Protecting them will be a security nightmare.
- The possibility of including the Arab Triangle, and its 250,000 Israeli Arab citizens, in the area designated for transfer to Palestinian sovereignty. Beyond being morally reprehensible, the very consideration of the idea would severely undermine the process of integration of Arab citizens into Israeli society. The worrisome phenomena of very few Israeli Arabs who over the years cooperated with Israel’s enemies might evolve into a flood, once Arab citizens see no value in loyalty to the state. The price will be paid not only by the Shin Bet, which will face an unprecedented challenge, but by the general public as well.
Given irresponsible calls for ‘annexation now’ on the one hand, and the dim prospects of an imminent two-state solution on the other, CIS determines that reducing tensions between the two peoples and preserving conditions for a future agreement mandate civilian separation from the Palestinians while maintaining the present security deployment until negotiations permit otherwise, all as detailed in our Security First plan.