Analysis: What does Netanyahu’s annexation plan mean for the two-state solution?

What does a potential annexation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria mean for the internationally advocated two-state solution?

By Daniel Krygier, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently declared that he intends to eventually annex “all the settlements” in Judea and Samaria.

What does a potential annexation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria mean for the internationally advocated two-state solution?

Unlike in his past statements, this time Netanyahu explicitly stated that the Jordan Valley would become the first geographical area to be annexed by Israel.

Unsurprisingly, European powers condemned Prime Minister Netanyahu’s declaration. In a joint statement, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy claimed that such annexation would constitute “a serious breach of international law.”

Pundits on the Left have warned that annexation and the so-called two-state solution are mutually incompatible. In their worldview, annexation pushes Israel towards a “one-state solution” where Jews allegedly eventually risk becoming a minority in the Jewish nation-state.

All these issues deserve close scrutiny. While the claim that a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria violate international law is popular, it is not supported by facts. Jews are no strangers in Judea and Samaria.

In fact, these territories are saturated with ancestral Jewish history. The internationally binding San Remo Conference explicitly recognized the Jewish people’s historical and legal right to the Land of Israel.

The prerequisite for “occupation” is that the territory belongs legally to another nation. However, “Palestine” does not exist and international law is not based on politically motivated statements in Europe and Ramallah. Judea and Samaria are therefore legally disputed territories where Jewish communities are no less legal than Arab communities are.

Furthermore, Jewish communities cover only a few percent of the total area in Judea and Samaria. The majority of the local Jewish population is concentrated in larger communities adjacent to the Green Line.

In other words, a Jewish presence does not undermine an Arab presence in Judea and Samaria. Quite the opposite.

Politics aside, Jewish communities are important sources of income for the local Arab population.

The Jordan Valley, which Netanyahu said would be annexed first, is a unique area. It is sparsely populated and hardly any Arabs live there. Secondly, generations of Israeli military and political leaders have stressed the Jordan Valley’s strategic importance for Israel’s national security.

Even former Israeli left-wing leaders like Yitzhak Rabin concluded that the Jordan Valley must remain under Israeli control. Israel is a tiny sliver of land. It lacks any strategic depth. At its narrowest point, the Jewish state within the Green Line is merely 9 miles wide.

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The Jordan Valley therefore constitutes a natural line of defense against hostile militaries attempting invasion from the east. In the past, Israel was threatened from the east by Iraq. Today, Israel is increasingly threatened by Iran and its terrorist proxies amassing along Israel’s narrow borders.

Neither Europe nor anyone else will secure Israel’s borders against aggression. At the end of the day, the Jewish state can only rely on itself and needs defensible borders to continue thriving in the hostile and volatile Middle East region.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has stressed several times that the Arab population in Judea and Samaria should have all the powers to govern themselves but none of the powers to threaten Israel.

Some critics have therefore concluded that Netanyahu is advocating Arab self-rule rather than full independence. Ramallah is a despotic kleptocracy that explicitly rejects the existence of a neighboring Jewish state. When adding military ambitions to its militant ideology, a fully independent Ramallah-led Arab state would directly threaten Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

From the commanding heights of Samaria, Muslim terrorists could easily target commercial planes on Ben-Gurion airport. Much of central Israel would become threatened like today’s Sderot. Needless to say, it would be irresponsible for any Israeli Prime Minister to disregard this serious threat against Israel’s main population centers.

While most Israelis continue embracing peace, few believe that genuine peace is coming soon. For the time being, the status quo is the least bad of several bad options.

It envisions eventual increased self-rule for the Arabs in Judea and Samaria while not undermining Israel’s security by establishing a hostile terrorist-state on Israel’s doorstep.