How Netanyahu’s plans for the West Bank Annexation spell disaster for the Palestinians
Jews were 12% of the total population and held 3% of the total land in 1933 but ended up capturing 80% of Palestine after more than half of Palestinian population close to 800,000 was uprooted by Zionists in 1948.
The remaining area for the Palestinians was divided into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After the six day war in 1967, some quarter a million to 420,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes. Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza as well.
Israel has unilaterally annexed two territories in the past. The East Jerusalem was occupied at the end of the 1967 War. In 1980, Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem by passing a law and similarly it annexed the Syrian Golan Heights in 1981.
There are 600,000 – 750,000 Israeli settlers living in at least 250 settlements (130 official , 120 unofficial) in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The population of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is growing at a faster rate than the population of Israel. Roughly 10 percent of Israel’s 6.8 million Jewish population lives in these occupied Palestinian territories. Despite being outside of Israel proper, these settlers are granted Israeli citizenship and receive government subsidies.
Netanyahu’s expected annexation of the Jordan Valley in West Bank would have disastrous consequences for the Palestinians. Jordan Valley makes up 30 percent of the West Bank and constitutes half of its agricultural land. It is significant for a number of reasons:
1. The West Bank’s only international border is with Jordan. If Israel annexes the Jordan Valley the entire West Bank would be completely surrounded by Israel. For Palestinians it would be a nail in the coffin for all the dreams of a Palestinian state.
2. The Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley receive 18 times more water on average than Palestinians in the West Bank. Most Palestinian farmers have to rely on buying water from tankers. Annexation would mean that Palestinians would be physically cut off from the Jordan River.
3. In the present set-up, any building in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defence minister and PM which can take months. After annexation, Israel would consider the Jordan Valley part of its territory and so any construction would become a local matter.