DSA Statement on Israeli Plans for More Annexation
Widespread, loud and unprecedented objections from his centrist allies at
home and from "friends of Israel" around the world have apparently deterred
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from keeping his election promise to
begin formal annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank on July 1,
We join the chorus opposing such a move, but our reasons are very different
from those given by "friends" who mostly express concern on how formal
annexation would harm Israel's relations with the rulers of neighboring
countries, or would harm prospects for a "two-state solution" to the "Israel-
Our opposition is to how annexation could make life even more torturous
than it is already for the approximately 3 million Palestinians in the occupied
West Bank (including Jerusalem); how it would severely violate - and
therefore weaken - the force of international law; and how it would reinforce
the colonial, supremacist relationship between Israel and the subject
"Annexation" means that Israel would apply its domestic law to areas that
have been taken over by civilian colonies ("settlements") or the military, part
of Israel's long-term drive to control as much land with as few non-Jewish
subjects as possible. This would reportedly include populations centers near
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; isolated colonies throughout the area - destroying
any possible contiguity for Palestinian society; and most of the Jordan Valley,
separating the rest of the West Bank from the kingdom of Jordan to the east.
Under civilian law, it would become even easier for Israel to confiscate land
than under the minimal constraints it has sometimes observed under
international humanitarian law that applies to occupied territories.
The threatened occupation still might occur in the coming days, weeks or
months -- with a new surge of COVID-19 cases in Israel and the occupied
territories a wild card in the calculations. But even if the threat is somehow
deferred permanently, the creeping colonization of the area and ever greater
constriction of life and livelihood for the Palestinian population since 1967
amount to de facto annexation - and the international community has failed
to stop it.
Moreover, even if the status quo were to be frozen, with no more settler
construction, no more home demolitions, no more land grabs, no more
checkpoints, closures or restrictions on movement - three existing facts on
the ground would remain:
The vaunted "two-state solution" that envisioned a sovereign Palestine
alongside Israel - whether as a permanent end or a step toward future
unity - is a dead letter, killed by bantustanization, walls, settler-only
roads and most of all, by the world's refusal to enforce countless UN
resolutions and International Court of Justice opinions demand its
Instead, a "one-state reality" would persist - an ethnocracy in which
one group, Israeli Jews, has a semblance of democracy, with second-
class citizenship for Palestinian citizens and no say in their governance
for those in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza
Strip. In other words, apartheid.
Millions of refugees (including their descendants), expelled from their
homes and/or homeland in 1947-50, when Israel was established, or in
1967 - would remain in exile, still denied their right to return under
international law. We welcome the sudden fall of the taboo on criticizing Israel in the U.S. mainstream - almost all House Democrats signed a letter to Israel's leaders June 25 urging them not to move forward with annexation. But we decry the hypocrisy in their rationales and remedies:
While many U.S. liberals are coming to see how our country was built
on a foundation of white supremacy, genocide and slavery, the House
leadership letter is tone deaf in extolling
"our shared democratic values." Israel, too, was born out of settler colonialism, and like ours, its ruling class continues to this day to profit from the racial-ethnic stratification of the Jewish and Palestinian populations - e.g. a cheap,
captive labor force and market that the West Bank constitutes -- amid
massive inequality generally.
The letter also cites common U.S.-Israeli "strategic interests." Even
many of the signers who denounce the economic war on Iran and the
bloody assault on Yemen ignore the fact that Israel is an eager partner
to these projects, pitching its own burgeoning "security" exports to the
region's kingdoms and dictatorships.
Opposition to formal annexation rings false if the critics have long
failed and continue not to object to de facto annexation as they
bemoan the "threat" to the long-dead "two-state solution."
The United States and its allies were quick to impose sanctions on
Russia for its annexation of Crimea, effected with much less violence
and with the apparent support of most Crimeans. But nowhere in the
broad-based House letter does there appear any threat of
consequences if Israel goes ahead with annexation.
Given these weaknesses of the "loyal opposition, we are encouraged by the
release of a second letter June 30, spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-
Cortez, endorsed by 11 other House members and Sen. Bernie Sanders - and by a notable set of organizations that stand in solidarity with Palestinian
It echoed through the Capitol with an unprecedented call for
leveraging military aid to Israel not only to oppose annexation but to
advance Palestinian rights more broadly.
The letter says annexation would "lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an
apartheid state," notes the clear violations of international law (saying
Israel's West Bank settlements already constitute a "war crime") and rejects
"an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a
Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights."
Even the letter from the 13, however, refrains from analyzing how U.S.
tolerance of Israeli human rights violations is not really an exception.
Instead, it invokes "the principles of democracy and human rights that the
United States of America is supposed to stand for." Nor does it mention
violations of Palestinian rights that occurred before 1967, most notably
forced exile, or the right under international law of refugees and their
descendants to return.
But finally, a small but brave group in Congress has broadened the
conversation with a plea that doesn't repeat the maddening platitudes about
U.S.-Israel alliance and the "two-state" mantra, basing its case instead on
international law and fundamental human rights. It's our task to broaden the
conversation further and to win public support for a fundamental change in
U.S. policy everywhere, one that would bring true decolonization at home
Click here for our Home Page