Netanyahu’s plan to annex Judea and Samaria is causing nations to choose sides but in an entirely unexpected manner, many Arab nations are choosing to stand with Israel.
TRUMP PEACE PLAN OPENS DOOR TO ANNEXATION
Despite what many believe, President Trump’s Peace Plan did not greenlight annexation. It does call for Palestinian demilitarization, the rejection of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, and the abandonment of international legal action against Israel and the United States. During the press conference announcing the plan, Netanyahu announced that the Israeli government would immediately annex the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria while committing not to create new settlements in areas left to the Palestinians for at least four years. The Trump administration clarified that no such green light had been given.
This is in direct contradiction to the Palestinian desire to establish a political entity comprising all of the lands Israel conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War, territory that had been illegally occupied in 1948 by Jordan. As a result, the Palestinian Authority rejected the Peace Plan and cut off relations with the US and Israel.
Despite the official support of the Trump administration (or perhaps due to it), many Democrats including the Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, object to Israeli annexation.
EUROPEAN LEADERS OPPOSE ANNEXATION
Similarly, Josep Borrell Fontelles the current High Representative of the European Union inaccurately described Israeli annexation as “contrary to international law.”
“The two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the future capital for both states, is the only way to ensure sustainable peace and stability in the region,” Borrell stated earlier this month. “We strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to international law.”
Many European leaders joined in, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez, Italian PM Giuseppe Conte, and Britain’s Boris Johnson.
JORDAN CHOOSES ISRAEL AND TRUMP OVER PALESTINIAN AND IRAN
As per longstanding custom, much has been said about the objections of the Arab nations to Israeli annexation. Last week, Jordanian King Abdullah II told the German newspaper Der Spiegel that “Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and West Bank territories could lead Jerusalem and Amman to clash, and may lead to cancellation of the Oslo Accords and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.”
But an article in Israel Hayom quoted a senior Jordanian government official as saying that behind King Abdullah’s words to the German press was a very different meaning.
“King Abdullah gave a speech a few days ago for Jordanian Independence Day, discussing the kingdom’s tremendous achievements since its founding and its success in fighting the coronavirus pandemic within Jordan,” the official said.
“The only thing the king did not mention in his speech was Jordan’s official position on the annexation of the valley and parts of the West Bank. In the interview he gave to the German newspaper, the king refused to declare that annexation would cancel the peace agreement with Israel. His silence on the matter is for a number of reasons.”
“If Jordan suspends or cancels the peace agreement, its position of authority over the holy sites of Islam in Jerusalem will be harmed. The king also prefers to see the western border of the kingdom [the Jordan Valley] under the rule of Israeli military forces, rather than Palestinian forces or rebel forces,” the official said to Israel Hayom.
“With respect for Palestinian interests, the Jordanian national interest is more important to the king. He wants to continue maintaining the kingdom’s status in Jerusalem and good relations with Washington and President Trump.”
“We’ve seen what’s been happening in the West Bank since Abbas stopped the security coordination with Israel. There is great concern in Ramallah that Hamas and the West Bank militants will take over, like in the Gaza Strip. We don’t want to see a repeat of what happened in Gaza after disengagement.”
EGYPT, SAUDI ARABIA, UAE CHOOSE TRUMP AND ISRAEL
And Jordan is not alone in this. A senior Egyptian security official told Israel Hayom that many Arab world leaders “see Iran and the impending threat of Shi’ite Iranian hegemony in the Middle East and are more concerned about that than the Palestinian issue. The United States and Israel have great weight in the fight against Iran.”
A senior Saudi diplomat close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said to Israel Hayom, “The official Arab position will always be against any move that infringes on the rights of the Palestinians for an independent state or hurts the Palestinian national interest.”
“But with all due respect to the several dozen Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley, Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan will not endanger their relationship with the Trump administration for them.”
“Our assumption is that Trump will win the election and continue for a second term. The Palestinians have failed to take advantage of the sympathetic government they had during the Obama era. It’s time for Abu Mazen and the old guard leadership to realize that their global and regional interests are changing once again,” the Saudi source said.
“If they again miss an opportunity to establish an independent and sovereign state alongside Israel, because of annexation of the valley and some of the settlements, they will remain with nothing for another 20 years.”
PALESTINIAN REACTION: “KNIFE IN THE BACK
Though no Arab nation will openly come out in support of annexation or against a Palestinian state, several are willing to give their tacit, unspoken, non-objection to a slightly greater Israel.
A senior PA official said to Israel Hayom, “If Arab states allow annexation of the Jordan Valley and West Bank, it’s nothing less than a knife in the back of the Palestinians.”
Understated threats of violence accompanied this development. Dr. Saeb Erekat, PLO Executive Committee Chair and senior advisor to Abbas, spoke to Radio Kol Falastine last Wednesday, saying, “The following weeks will determine whether the next decades will be peaceful, or if we will have decades of violence and war.”