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  • A Palestinian protester moves a burning tire during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2019.

    A Palestinian protester moves a burning tire during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 March 2019

Israel PM Netanyahu will possibly announce Jewish illegal settlements as Israeli territories with U.S. backing if re-elected. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will possibly declare illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as Israeli territory if re-elected on the April 9 elections, according to a report by The Times of Israel published Wednesday. 

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After the United States recognized the annexed Israel Occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory Monday, Netanyahu told reporters the decision of the U.S. President Donald Trump reiterates “a very important principle in international life: When you start wars of aggression, [and] you lose territory, do not come and claim it afterward. It belongs to us.”

He also said during his trip back home, “Everyone says you can’t hold an occupied territory, but this proves you can. If occupied in a defensive war, then it’s ours.”

However, the 1967 Arab-Israel war during which Israel occupied the Golan Heights, was not a defensive war for Israel. It all started with Israel’s surprise attack on Egypt. Even the United Nations Security Council considers the territory as acquisition by war. And, there is a fear that in absence of the support of international law, Israel will militarily annex the West Bank.

David Horovitz, The Times of Israel's founding editor, spoke to various sources close to both the leaders of Israel and the U.S. who said that Netanyahu does have in mind a partial annexation of the occupied West Bank.

The major settlement blocs such as the Etzion Bloc, Ma’aleh Adumim, and Ariel will possibly be annexed with some degree of U.S. backing and support of Israels, the sources told Horovitz of Netanyahu's plans. 

A recent poll by Haaretz found out that 42 percent people backed full or partial annexation of West Bank, while 27 percent supported full annexation and 15 percent went for partial. Only 28 percent of people opposed any kind of annexations.

The move on Golan Heights by the Trump admin and any future action by the Israeli state against the West Bank would not affect the legal status of such territories in the eye of international law, Ramzy Baroud, a Palestinian professor and the editor of Palestine Chronicle, told teleSUR.

"In 2004, the International Court of Justice rendered its opinion regarding the Israeli Apartheid Wall, which effectively annexed large areas of the West Bank, by reaffirming the legal status of the Occupied Palestinian Territories as illegally occupied by Israel in violation of international law," Baroud said.

"Nothing has changed since then and nothing will change as far as international law is concerned, even if Israel, emboldened by Washington's blind support, annexes the whole of the West Bank."

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The report by Horovitz also said that Netanyahu may use this prospect of annexation to gain support from lawmakers which will ensure that the three corruption charges against him will not stop him from continuing as the prime minister if he gets re-elected. This support will also ensure his protection from prosecution.

Netanyahu has received a lot of support from the Trump administration i.e.,  from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to relocation the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and finally recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. After the elections, the focus will be on the Israeli-Palestine peace proposal.

The Trump team that includes the president’s senior adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner, Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is finalizing a plan which the Palestinian leadership has already expressed its rejection to it amid Trump's mounting attacks. 

Fearing that Trump’s successor will not be as pro-Israel as him and might not appreciate “the existential risk to Israel if Judea and Samaria are overcome by terrorism in the manner that befell the Gaza Strip after the IDF withdrew from this territory,” Friedman said that Israel needs to maintain security control on West Bank and the current U.S. administration certain “progress” should be made.

“Can we run the risk that one day the government of Israel will lament, why didn’t we make more progress when U.S. foreign policy was in the hands of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Bolton, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and even David Friedman? How can we do that?” Friedman said during AIPAC conference this week. 

An unnamed source suggested to Horovitz that “the next [Trump] tweet will be to recognize Israel annexing the settlement blocs,” if one goes by Friedman’s speech.

Asked if the international communities could hold Israel accountable if it decides to Annex the West Bank, Baroud warned that "International law on its own, however, has no power to stop Israel, or any other rogue regime, like that of Washington, from violating international consensus."

He added that one of the main obstacles in the way of applying international law was Wasnhgiton's veto power in favor of Israel. "For the law to carry value, it has to be enforced through the international community, a feat that is easy said than done considering that Washington has for decades protected Israel from any moral or legal accountability.


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