December 21, 2020

TO:  Members of Knesset, Cabinet
FM:  Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Matan Vilnai

Re:  Creeping annexation expedited

Last Wednesday 60 MKs voted in favor of the “fabric of life” law, a bill to regulate illegal settlements in the process of formalizing their status.  The bill passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset. We are following this legislation closely, concerned that the bill will only accelerate a covert process of annexation, thereby jeopardizing the very future of the Zionist enterprise.

The law is part of an ongoing effort to change the terminology regarding illegal settlements, using phrases like “unregulated” or, more recently, “young” settlements.  Different titles do not change the fact that they were established outside of any national planning process that would have taken into consideration the various implications of establishing these settlements – security implications above all.

This bill is intended to conceal these irregularities by enshrining them in law.  The very need to pass this legislation with such urgency, while instructing government authorities in charge of West Bank planning to complete the process within two years, reflects awareness of how serious the problem is.

To be sure, we do not oppose annexation as part of an agreement with the Palestinians.  Likewise, we believe that settlers are entitled to essential services, but not if it drags Israel into the tragedy of a one-state reality.

The failure to recognize the need to separate from three million Palestinians is but an additional example of the irresponsible management of our national security.  It will ultimately damage the fabric of life for all Israel’s citizens.  The authors of this bill, and those MK’s who voted for it in the preliminary reading, either ignored this fundamental truth or have consciously decided to drag us all into the calamity of sharing a single country with millions of Palestinians.

The proposed law guarantees increased friction with the Palestinian population. It encourages popular Palestinian support for a binational state and further undermines the stability of the Palestinian Authority and its security coordination with our forces. It reduces the likelihood of future peace negotiations and threatens to undercut the potential of recently signed normalization agreements as well as the prospects for future ones.

A new regional system is in the making. This sensitive and highly important process underscores the need to take the initiative and change direction in our relations with the Palestinians.  We can only achieve this by means of carefully considered moves that promote separation while assuring our national security.  The law in question will do precisely the opposite.

On behalf of the over three hundred CIS members, I call upon you to stop this legislation, which endangers prospects for separating from the Palestinians. 

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Matan Vilnai
Commanders for Israel’s Security