It is not clear whether Prime Minister Netanyahu was only engaging in campaign rhetoric the other day when he declared that should he be re-elected he would begin the process of annexing parts of the West Bank. Nor, at this writing, is it clear that he will be asked to form the next government. In any case, the issue he raised is a fascinating one and it is important to put it in context.
Opponents of the possible action who raised the usual hue and cry about the evil of allowing nations to gain land through military conquest conveniently failed to mention that the land in question came into Israeli hands only by virtue of their successfully defending their country against Arab wars of annihilation. They also make no mention of the Arab side’s inability to finally accept Israel’s existence in the Middle East and its entitlement to borders that would be defensible in the next Arab onslaught. Borders for Israel in the dangerous neighborhood it lives are not matters of aesthetics or symmetry.
But a key consideration is that even Palestinian leaders concede, along with other Arab leaders and Western leaders, that any final agreement will necessarily assign Jewish population centers in the West Bank to Israel. And this is exactly what Netanyahu seemed to be suggesting, at least at the beginning. Perhaps it would spur the Palestinians to get real and not hope for lightning to strike with a still better deal the next time around. If anything, the Netanyahu salvo should at least serve as a reality check.
And if the Palestinian response would be that they still will not negotiate post-annexation, then they should be told: “So don’t.”