Netanyahu puts the future of the West Bank on the ballot

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, campaigning in a market in Tel Aviv. (photo: Oded Balilty / Associated Press)
Sovereignty would almost certainly lead to a nightmare of one kind or another for Israel, like a rise in violence and international condemnation.

By David Halbfinger | The New York Times | Apr 7, 2019

If Palestinians in annexed territory are not granted citizenship, it could pave the way for the kind of apartheid state that two-state supporters have long warned against.

As Israelis get ready to go to the polls on Tuesday, a stark, fateful and long-deferred choice has suddenly reappeared to confront them after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unexpected promise to begin extending sovereignty over the West Bank if he is re-elected.

Do voters want to make permanent their country’s control over the West Bank and its 2.6 million Palestinian inhabitants? Or do they want to keep alive the possibility that a Palestinian state could be carved out there one day?

That question has been made newly urgent by Mr. Netanyahu, who is facing a career-threatening challenge from a unified centrist party headed by a team of former army chiefs. His shocking announcement about Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank appeared to be a last-ditch effort to rally his right-wing base and stay in power.

For supporters of annexation, it is not only this week’s vote that is on their minds but the American election in 2020: They call President Trump’s staunch support for Israel a “historic opportunity” to proceed with annexation of some, much or even all of the West Bank — but one that comes with a ticking countdown to a possible new administration in Washington.

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