“Less space to breathe” — Palestinian response to Israel’s annexation plans

The Old City of Jerusalem is seen from the Mount of Olives, Jan 13, 2017. (photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images)
Given the Trump Administration’s support for Netanyahu, Palestinians now fear they will be pushed into a quasi-state comprised of Gaza and isolated plots of West Bank land, surrounded by Israeli settlements. Jerusalem isn’t even on the table.

By Dalia Hatuqa | Time | Sep 13, 2019

‘Annexation has been de facto the case for a long time, some might argue from the beginning of the occupation, but certainly since the Second Intifada [2000–2005]. But this process of creeping annexation has been gathering pace under Netanyahu’s government as officials push for formal annexation and have begun introducing bills to the Knesset in that direction.’
— Tareq Baconi, a Ramallah-based analyst with the International Crisis Group

On a chilly April evening, several elderly Palestinian men sat in a smoke-filled downtown Ramallah cafe watching the news. The anchor on the enormous flat-screen mounted on the wall read election results that would affect their lives in every way imaginable. The tally was not from Palestinian polls, which haven’t been held in 14 years, but next door, in Israel.

As the days went on, Palestinians saw how much Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was willing to secure an electoral victory, including vowing to annex West Bank settlements. They watched as Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, made compromises with the most fringe elements of the Israeli far-right to draw votes from his competitors. Though Netanyahu had won the elections, he failed to form a coalition, spurring a do-over that has left him more politically exposed than he has been in over a decade. And with that, he has gone even further to secure another victory in the next elections on Sept. 17: On Tuesday, he announced plans to annex the Jordan Valley, a large and important part of the West Bank, if his party wins.

“This has gone far beyond lip-service and vows, it’s now just contingent upon finding the right place and the right time for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank,” says Ghassan Zaqtan, a renowned Palestinian writer and poet based in Ramallah. “Netanyahu will not hesitate to do anything — and that includes annexing West Bank settlements — to stay prime minister.”

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