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Why We Must Oppose Israel’s Illegal Annexation of the West Bank

Annexation, as proposed by Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ would put the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo accords says Sybil Cock

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President Trump welcomes the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, to the White House on 25 March 2019


The Israeli far-right has campaigned for the Annexation of the West Bank for years. The difference between Annexation and Military Occupation is a fine, but important, one. The Occupied lands exist under a pretence that they will be given back at some stage; that the Occupation will end when the mythical Two-State Solution is agreed.

Annexation is a claim to ownership in the same way that Russia annexed Crimea. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967, and its third of a million Palestinians are stateless.

Annexation, as proposed by Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ would put the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo accords of 1993 which led to the widespread international pretence of peace talks while Israel continues to build settler colonies all over the West Bank and Jerusalem. On the ground, it is not clear how much would change.

Palestine already has no control of its borders or natural resources, no airport, and its people live under brutal military rule. Annexation would consolidate the land theft, in particular the fertile Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and the settler colonies in which half a million Israelis live.

The risk for Israel is that the ‘Apartheid’ label will be fixed and stick.

There have been widely reported protests inside Israel; however, these are almost entirely concerned with the potential damage to Israel’s international reputation and its ‘security’. Similarly, a group of prominent British Jews have expressed concern – even Melanie Philips is worried.

In the international context of widespread protests against state-sponsored racism, it is worth remembering that Israel is the creation of British colonialism.

Churchill told the Peel Commission, investigating the Arab revolts of the 1930s, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race… has come in and taken their place”.

Concern for the well-being of the oppressor rather than the oppressed is another well-worn trope of colonial discourse.1

It is amusing to read that Boris Johnson referred to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as “an exquisite piece of Foreign Office fudgerama” – but that is as far as this government’s objections to the Annexation is likely to go. More interesting is the fact that 130 MPs have signed a statement against Annexation which explicitly uses the word ‘Sanctions’ as a threat.

1 https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/britain-and-palestine-from-balfour-to-boris/ - A heavily shortened version of this piece by Avi Shlaim appeared in the Guardian this week.

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