Israel looked set to begin moves to annexe up to a third of the Palestinian West Bank from Wednesday of this week. The coalition government led by racist warmonger Binyamin Netanyahu wants to snatch huge chunks of Palestinian land.
Plans drawn up by Netanyahu’s cabinet had not been released as Socialist Worker went to press. But they are based on a supposed “peace deal” drawn up by the US president Donald Trump.
They’re likely to include the annexation of the whole of the Jordan Valley as well as a number of settlements—huge Israeli towns— built illegally on Palestinian land. Palestinians would be left with fragmented scraps of land, surrounded on all sides by Israel— and under its total military and economic control.
It would be a major step in Israel’s decades-long war against Palestinians and their right to exist.
Some 850,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948. Their expulsion was an act of ethnic cleansing designed to ensure Arabs would be a minority in the new state. Israel captured the remaining Palestinian land during the Six Day War of 1967, when it invaded and occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
It has since left Gaza, instead placing it under siege. But it has refused to give up the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and is constructing huge settlement blocs there directly connected to Israel. It now hopes to use these settlements to claim the land as its own.
Meanwhile Palestinians have lived under a repressive military occupation. Military checkpoints, harassment and violence by Israeli soldiers and settlers are part of everyday life.
Netanyahu has bragged that pushing ahead with the plans would confirm Israel’s “sovereignty” over Palestinian land. Meanwhile many Western governments have opposed the annexation plans.
This isn’t on the basis that annexation is a crime against Palestinians, but because they threaten “security” in the Middle East. For decades Israel has been a cornerstone of the West’s domination of the Middle East.
The first Jewish settlers in Palestine were backed by the British Empire, which hoped they would help to control the Arab population. Israel has also played the role of the US’s most important military ally.
It has received billions of dollars in military aid so that it can defend the US’s interests against states and resistance movements that threaten it. But now many Western states worry that annexing the West Bank will undermine that.
They have used the promise of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a way of co-opting Arab leaders and containing Palestinian resistance. But annexation would show once and for all that such a “two-state solution” is impossible.
Instead it would mean renewed attempts to force Palestinians from their land.
The only just answer is a single, secular state with equal democratic rights for all its citizens. And that means opposing attempts to drive Palestinians out—and supporting Palestinian resistance.