Sixth, annexation would be likely to make more Palestinians eligible to become citizens of Israel. That would be a profound mistake, since its Arab citizens constitute what I believe is the ultimate enemy of Israel’s status as a Jewish state, the one that will still be standing after the threats posed by Iran and Gaza have been dealt with. Citizens of Israel, unlike external enemies, cannot be defeated. Their allegiance must be won over, and the larger their number, the harder that becomes.
In short, annexation of the West Bank would probably damage Israel’s relations with the Trump administration, the Democrats, Europeans and Arab leaders, as well as destabilize the region, radicalize the Israeli Left, and harm the Zionist goal of a Jewish state.
And what does annexation actually achieve? It is a symbolic move, a gesture toward Israelis living on the West Bank in legal limbo. But annexation does not extricate them from that limbo, since it is likely that no important government in the world would recognize their change in legal status.
The conclusion is simple: Don’t toy with Mr. Trump’s temper, don’t infuriate Democrats and Europeans, don’t alienate Arab leaders, don’t inflame Palestinians, don’t radicalize the Israeli Left, and don’t add Palestinian citizens to Israel.
Israel must assert itself against the Palestinians; but that assertion must be strategic, fitting into the larger campaign to compel Palestinians to give up their goal of eliminating the Jewish state. Annexing the West Bank is a self-indulgence that has the opposite result. Therefore, despite its intention, it buoys the Palestinian cause and renders a resolution of the conflict more distant.
Accordingly, friends of Israel must loudly and clearly say “No” to West Bank annexation.
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