Liberal Zionism paved the Israeli right’s path to annexation

Israelis take part in an annual 8-km march in the Jordan Valley, led by then-Interior Affairs Minister Gideon Saar. February 21, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Israelis take part in an annual 8-km march in the Jordan Valley, led by then-Interior Affairs Minister Gideon Saar. February 21, 2014. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / FLASH90)
The world’s frantic attempts to stop annexation remain stuck in the liberal Zionist fantasies that kept the occupation running smoothly for decades.

By Yousef Munayyer | +972 Magazine | June 23, 2020

The reality on the ground is that de facto annexation — as the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on Israel’s separation wall noted 16 years ago — is already in place, thanks in great part to the liberal Zionist governments that built and maintained the occupation since 1967.

As the new Israeli government was being sworn in last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed before the Knesset that it was time to “write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism” by formally annexing more territory in the occupied West Bank.

With just over a week away from July 1 — the date the government has pledged to begin advancing legislation to apply “Jewish sovereignty” over its settlements — liberal Zionist figures and organizations, in Israel and abroad, have been hastily pulling out all the stops to prevent this annexation move.

However, hardly any of these liberal Zionists are acknowledging that it was their own advocacy that helped to produce this “glorious chapter” in the first place.

During Israel’s three elections over the past year and a half, many observers of the liberal Zionist persuasion had placed their hopes in the opposition parties that ran against the Netanyhu-led right-wing bloc. Chief among these parties was Blue and White, led by the current Defense Minister and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. If Gantz could dislodge Netanyahu from his historic reign, some liberal Zionists believed, he could help to halt Israel’s settlement expansion into the West Bank, and thus keep the fantasy of a two-state solution alive.

This hope was always misplaced and at times bordered on delusional. Gantz himself openly endorsed annexing the Jordan Valley, committing during his election campaign that “under any future circumstances, we are going to keep this area. We will try to strengthen it as much as possible with a national plan to support the settlements in this area.”

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