Israel to annex Judea and Samaria?

Entering Jerusalem, ancient capital of Israel
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Should Israel annex Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank”), or not? Since the War for Independence, and even before then, Israeli and Zionist leaders, and the Jewish people, have debated whether to do this. Israel has not so acted before today because its leaders were afraid to. But today’s leaders might be losing that fear. And a new popular movement to annex Judea and Samaria exists and is thriving.

The One State Israel Movement

Popular Sentiment

At least some residents, and politicians, in Israel have wanted their country to take all the lands that were once part of Israel. But  the movement to annex the so-called West Bank has thrived particularly in the last two years.

For ten days in March and April 2011, your correspondent toured Israel. This tour did not include any stops in Judea and Samaria. The reason was simple: the Ministry of Tourism, which furnished the tour guide, did not want to risk taking Americans there. We did not even visit Nazareth, which is within the “Green Line” (the 1949 Armistice Line) and hence within Israel proper. Why not? Because Arabs outnumber Jews there. And a visit to Hebron, the first seat of the Kingdom of Judah in King David’s day, was out of the question. (Another Jewish source told CNAV recently that any tour group visiting Hebron must reserve a bulletproof bus. Kirk Douglas, call your agent!)

“Mickey” Marcus: Is that a bus or a tank?

Magda Simon: A little bit of each.

From Cast a Giant Shadow (1965)

But that did not stop the tour guide on that 2011 trip from telling your correspondent what she would like to see happen. She said at least once that Israel is the only country in history to win a war but not enjoy the fruits of victory. Judea and Samaria fell to Israel in the Six-Day War, a war that Egypt and Jordan started with Israel. But she did not rely on right of conquest. She reminded the group that ancient Hebrews lived in Judea and Samaria long before any Arabs lived there. And if any people have been trying to “rub out” history, it is the Arabs, and especially the “Palestinian Authority.” (She has a point. Rachel’s Tomb, on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem Road, is now a small fortress. “Palestinian” rioters trashed Joseph’s Tomb a few years ago. And who can forget the trashing of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem?) And in one memorable episode, an excursion onto Lake Kenneret (“the Sea of Galilee”), she said that the “hopeful” words of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah (“The Hope”), were not a fact. Yet.

CNAV knows that the views that this tour guide expressed are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Tourism. But they do reflect those of many Israeli Jews. They now have organized themselves to press the government to stop talking about a “two-State solution” and annex Judea and Samaria openly.

An organized movement

Entering Jerusalem, ancient capital of Israel

Aboard a tour bus entering the tunnel leading into Jerusalem, along the road from Ein Gedi. Photo: CNAV. Compliments to the Ministry of Tourism, Alumah Bus Lines, and International Tours.

The site “One State Solution: Israel” is a one-stop shop for everything one needs to know about the history of the West Bank, and where it really stands in terms of politics and demographics. Demographics are the key. Israeli leaders have not annexed Judea and Samaria since they captured them in the Six-Day War for one reason: they were afraid that the Arabs living there would out-multiply them and eventually out-vote them in their own country. No one in Israel wants to evict Arabs from their lands. When Israeli leaders took administrative control of the Golan Heights, they offered the Arabs living there the full rights of voting citizens. They would do the same in Judea and Samaria. They could not, in good conscience, do anything else. Naturally they’re afraid that the new Arab citizens will out-breed the Jews.

They need not worry. Experts now see that Jewish women have been having more babies, and Arab women fewer, than anyone expected them to have, forty-five years ago. Furthermore, as life in Israel improves, more Jews outside of Israel will move in. Today Jews outnumber Arabs, on both sides of the Green Line, 2 to 1. Arabs will never outvote Jews, and eventually Jews will outnumber Arabs even more. Now, thanks to the “One State Solution: Israel” site, every non-expert will know this, too.

The group Women in Green see this now. Last year they convened for the first time, to talk openly of annexing Judea and Samaria. This year they will convene again, on July 12. And they will convene in Hebron. That is either a bold or a crazy thing to do, depending on one’s point of view. Tourists in Hebron need bulletproof buses for a reason. On August 23, 1929, Arabs murdered 800 Jews who lived in Hebron. Some Arabs today still boast about that. But if the Women in Green worry about that happening again, they don’t show it. Nor do their listed speakers seem to worry. They propose to talk boldly of claiming sovereignty over all ancient Jewish land, and never letting any more of it go. This speech title says it all:

From Refuted Fatalism to Documented Optimism

The speaker: retired Ambassador Yoram Ettinger. The subject: demographics.

In August of 2011, Matthew Hausmann wrote this piece to urge the government to annex the territories. He said that:

  1. The Jews, not the Arabs, have the history in Judea and Samaria.
  2. Israel has the better legal claim.
  3. The vaunted Resolution 242 does not force Israel to give up Judea or Samaria.
  4. The Jews outnumber the Arabs and will outnumber them more easily, not less, with time.

A Special Committee Speaks: Israel Has the Right

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed a select committee to look closely at what Israeli and international law really says about Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Yesterday the committee made its report. Retired Justice Edmond Levy, late of the Israeli Supreme Court, wrote the opinion: Israelis have the full legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria.

Levy and his colleagues looked at the Fourth Geneva Convention on “occupied” lands. They said that the Fourth Convention does not apply to the West Bank. The reasons seem similar to those that CNAV cited earlier: no Israeli officials forced any Jew to live there. In fact, Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950 and expelled all Jews from Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem. In 1967, the Israel Defense Forces chased the Jordanians out. In 1996, Jordan let the West Bank go and agreed to stay east of the Jordan River. (See also this piece in Israel Hayom.)

The committee recommended that the government make up its mind whether to authorize more settlements or not. And if it does so authorize, it should set up a body to approve any land buys that Jews might make in Judea or Samaria. (Jerusalem has governed itself as a unified city since the War.) But it also said that the government should not demolish any settlements that stand today.

Bitter Debate

Not everyone in Israel agrees with annexing Judea and Samaria. Six days ago, Jay Bushinsky, writing in The Jerusalem Post, made the same mistake that most detractors of Israel make. He said that when any number of Jews decide, of their own free will, to settle in Judea or Samaria, that is the same as the Nazis deporting Germans to the Sudetenland and other occupied territories during the Second World War. Bushinsky also accused Netanyahu of making offers that he knows the Palestinian Authority cannot take and will not take.

Recently the government decided to give the title university to a small college in the Jewish settlement town of Ariel. Bradley Burston, writing in Haaretz (“The Land”), wrote bitterly that the government could no longer claim any moral high ground. (A committee of the Council on Higher Education later said that the college in Ariel should not call itself a “university.”)

But in his piece, Burston let slip what really troubled him. The government decided, on June 19, not to demolish the Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement. Michael Freund, a regular writer at the Post, crowed:

The battle over the future of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is over. To put it simply: the Left has lost, and the Jewish people have won.

Freund also said that the Armistice Line was no longer relevant. He cited recent surveys in Israel that show that Israelis want more settlements, not fewer, in Judea and Samaria.

When Jeremiah (31:4) foretold that “you will yet plant vineyards in Samaria,” and that the sounds of rejoicing would again be heard in the cities of Judea (33:10-11), he knew of what he spoke.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

24 Responses to Israel to annex Judea and Samaria?

  1. Fergus Mason says:

    “ancient Hebrews lived in Judea and Samaria long before any Arabs lived there.”

    As a general policy that has some implications for the USA, don’t you think?

    Seriously, Terry, you’re not proposing that we reduce foreign policy decisions to “We were here first,” are you?

    “But today’s leaders might be losing that fear. And a new popular movement to annex Judea and Samaria exists and is thriving.”

    If that movement gets its way it will be remembered as one of the worst political blunders ever. Annexing the West Bank would inevitably lead to the end of Israel.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Is that last part a threat?

      • Fergus Mason says:

        “Is that last part a threat?”

        Uh no Terry, it’s my analysis of the situation.

        An Israeli annexation of the West Bank would see Tel Aviv plumb new depths in international isolation. I doubt a majority of the US population would approve and it would utterly destroy any support they might find anywhere else. Even Germany couldn’t keep supporting them in that situation. Sanctions would be imposed, technology transfer restrictions, blocks on intelligence sharing… it would be a stupidly provocative move, and even if they survived the short-term political uproar I suspect the demographics would be a lot less favourable than you seem to think. As for population transfers, just one hint of expulsions of Arabs and there’d be a NATO force in there quicker than you could say “Arafat’s beard.”

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Who gives an unripe fig about international isolation? The Bible predicts it, and also predicts that God will have the last laugh on anyone who dares threaten Israel.

          I don’t seek “the majority opinion in America” for a sanction on my right to exist, or the right-to-exist of any of my friends. And that goes double for the Republic of Israel.

          Dare you propose that NATO attack Israel, for any pretended provocation? Have. A. Care.

          I will bless them/Who bless thee,/And anyone who curseth thee/I will curse.

          On the day that anything remotely similar happens, I’ll be on my way to the Embassy of Israel, if only to assure the Ambassador that not a bit of that is done in my name.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “Who gives an unripe fig about international isolation? The Bible predicts it, and also predicts that God will have the last laugh on anyone who dares threaten Israel.”

            However, back in the real world, Israel is a small country largely dependant on exports.

            “Dare you propose that NATO attack Israel, for any pretended provocation? Have. A. Care.”

            If Israel annexes the West Bank it will rapidly find a NATO peacekeeping force in there. Israel can’t fight NATO.

            “On the day that anything remotely similar happens, I’ll be on my way to the Embassy of Israel, if only to assure the Ambassador that not a bit of that is done in my name.”

            They’ll have bigger worries on their plate that day than what is or isn’t being done in your name.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Funny. At first you said that a NATO force would swoop in at the first hint of expulsions of Arabs from any particular towns. That need not happen, so long as the Arabs accept citizenship, with everything that goes with it. (Except that the IDF wouldn’t bother drafting any of them. Only Jews and Druze are subject to universal conscription. The Druze asked the government to include them.)

            Now you say that NATO would intervene at once, transfers or no transfers.

            In either event: the Republic of Israel has won against long odds before. I predict that God will lay a curse upon the NATO rear echelon, the economies of the NATO signatories, or likely both.

  2. Annex land which was won fair and square when Israel was attacked by its enemies and was forced to defend itself? Without a doubt, Israel should once and for all claim this land as its own and not pay any mind to those who squeal like stuck pigs!

    Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel

    http://www.thechristianmessage.org
    http://www.moralmatters.org

  3. TheEgyptian says:

    OK. First of all, lets forget the Bible. The talk of the Biblical land of Israel is window dressing for the real politics. No one in Israeli cabinet genuinely cares about religion. It serves as prolefeed to justify and radicalise political goals that the population would otherwise regard with apathy, if not disgust.

    The desire on the part of Israel to annex to the West Bank is very simple. Water and good land. The West Bank contains by far the biggest aquifer in all the areas Israel controls. Israel’s per capita water use is extremely high, at 243L per person per day (pppd). Compare this to 129L/pppd in Germany and 139L/pppd in France, both countries with far greater water resources. There is no way Israel can sustain this kind of usage without access to the waters of the West Bank. Similarly, whilst it has control of Lake Galilee, without the Golan heights it can’t exercise effective control over the highlands that recharge it.

    Furthermore, the West Bank is by some margin the more preferable land for agriculture. The Jordan Valley is potentially the richest agricultural land in the area. The only reason it is relatively barren at present is due to an intentional policy to prevent cultivation of it by the Palestinian population. Under Israeli law land that is not tended for three years can then by claimed by the state.

    So, this would suggest an argument from the Israeli perspective in favour of annexation. It would, if it were not the “Palestinian problem”. Your demographic argument is false. Within the West Bank, the Israeli birth rate does exceed that of Palestinians (3.05/1000 vs 5.10/1000 for year 2011). However, this is a selective data set. The overall rate (not just the West Bank settlers) is actually 2.97/1000 for all Israeli Jews, verses 3.75 for Israeli Palestinians. The high Jewish birth rate in the West Bank is due to the fact that settlers are disproportional from radical religious sects which produce exceptionally large families.

    Furthermore, Jews do not number Palestinians on the West Bank. They actually make up anything from 10-25% of the population, depending on the data sets used. Given this, the official annexation of the West Bank would be a demographic nightmare for the main Jewish political parties. However, the resources must be controlled, so what scenarios have seriously been considered?

    1. Expulsion. Openly called for by the far-right of the Israeli political spectrum. Also known as an “East of the Jordan solution” or “East Bank solution”. Put simply, the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are forced into Jordan. This would be diplomatically impossible unless Israel were able to trigger a war which could plausibly be blamed upon the Palestinians. Some ideas included using Hamas (which counter-intuitively, was originally cultivated deliberately by the Israeli secret service) as a trigger.

    2. Assimilation. favoured by the Israeli far-left, a “one-state” scenario on secular, non-religious lines. Largely discounted by major Jewish parties as being electorally undesirable as they rely almost solely on Jewish votes.

    3. Extermination. Fantasised about by the ultra-far-right but has unfortunate historical connotations. it also suffers from being diplomatically impossible under any real-world scenario.

    4. Demographic games. Essentially demographic terraforming or physical gerrymandering. A long term policy of strategically expanding and forming new settlements so as to shape Palestinian areas into bantustans on areas of land that can be “sacrificed”.

    Full scale annexation is not the aim of the policy. Rather, the useful land and water resources of the West Bank are annexed by being zoned either for settlements – including non-existent “planned” and “closed/security” zones which are actually intended for agricultural enterprises. This would account for about 75-80% of the West Bank. The remaining 20-25% would contain a ghettoised Palestinian population governed by a puppet Palestinian Authority for civil affairs under Israeli military domination. This policy was first adopted in the early 80s, originally with a view to full annexation and assimilation. Subsequently it has become a (long-term) end in itself, simpler, easier and electorally “safer” than assimilation.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      At least you stipulate that the government is not going to expel the Arabs. Nor exterminate them, either. (I doubt that any Tzahal soldier would obey such an order, and I’m sure everyone in Israel knows this. And after all, the Tzahal draws its enlisted ranks from all the Jews in Israel, plus an infusion of Druze. With Yad VaShem to remind them of what someone did to them, they are not likely to do that to anyone else!)

      Israel did assimilate Arab residents of the Golan Heights region. And they have effectively assimilated the residents of the Arab Quarter in Jerusalem. Ask the average Arab-on-the-street what regime he’d rather live under and pay taxes to, and he’ll tell you without fail: Israel and united Jerusalem, not the National Palestinian Authority.

      Don’t assume, by the way, that fertility rates stay where they are. Arab women tend not to have as many children, once they adjust to city life and certain opportunities not available to them when they dwell in tents. And you ought to follow the links for more current figures on Jewish fertility. They’ll tell you that Jewish women will have more children, because that in itself will have its appeal. (Never forget how much emphasis Jews of all stripes place on family. I’ve seen it up close.) Don’t forget the aliyah, either. When word gets around, aliyah will only accelerate.

  4. TheEgyptian says:

    At least you stipulate that the government is not going to expel the Arabs. Nor exterminate them, either. (I doubt that any Tzahal soldier would obey such an order, and I’m sure everyone in Israel knows this. And after all, the Tzahal draws its enlisted ranks from all the Jews in Israel, plus an infusion of Druze. With Yad VaShem to remind them of what someone did to them, they are not likely to do that to anyone else!)

    ======

    Politicians do not worry what soliders think. Such concerns do not feature in their decisions. Extermination is not a military problem, but a diplomatic one. The practicalities of it would not be insurmountable, but diplomatically Isreal would find itself without allies which would leave it vulnerable to counter-attack. Therefore, it is undesireable.

    ======

    Israel did assimilate Arab residents of the Golan Heights region.

    ======

    They are statistically insignificant. Assimilation of such a small number was less hassle than the alternatives, and had benefits, since recruiting some of them provide intelligence gathering capability.

    ======

    And they have effectively assimilated the residents of the Arab Quarter in Jerusalem. Ask the average Arab-on-the-street what regime he’d rather live under and pay taxes to, and he’ll tell you without fail: Israel and united Jerusalem, not the National Palestinian Authority.

    ======
    By default, East jerusalem Palestinians are *not* Isreali citizens. Some are, but most are Permanent Residents. There are obvious benefits to this arrangement since EJPRs don’t have full electoral rights.

    ======

    Don’t assume, by the way, that fertility rates stay where they are. Arab women tend not to have as many children, once they adjust to city life and certain opportunities not available to them when they dwell in tents.

    ======

    Oh my, you really don’t know Palestinians. They don’t live in tents, my friend. They are an agricultural culture, not a nomadic one. Most Palestinians live in permenent settlements, often hyper-urban due to the Area A rule. The birth-rate would only decline signifcantly with equally signifcant improvements in healthcare available to Palestinians. This will not happen as it is not politically desireable for it to happen from an Isreali perspective.

    =====

    And you ought to follow the links for more current figures on Jewish fertility.

    =====

    These figures are largely for 2010/11.

    =====

    They’ll tell you that Jewish women will have more children, because that in itself will have its appeal. (Never forget how much emphasis Jews of all stripes place on family. I’ve seen it up close.) Don’t forget the aliyah, either. When word gets around, aliyah will only accelerate.

    =====

    Aliyah is unlikely to increase significantly unless Isreal is able to put a lot more cash on the table. Why bother? Annexation is more trouble than it’s worth. That’s the bottom line, and that’s all that matters.

    The only arguement for annexation is based on some religious ideal, but those in power just don’t care. They want water and they want usable land. The areas that don’t have that but do have large Palestinian towns are more trouble than they are worth. Qalqilyah is the perfect embodiment of this policy. Take the land and boreholes, and herd the convert the settlement area to a ghetto. Seal it off, and walk away. Only a political fool would attempt to annex a hostile population for no additional gain, when bantustans are so much simpler.

    DISCLAIMER – Spelling and syntax may be incorrect. Late night post. Good night guys :)

  5. Tonto USA says:

    Pragmatically speaking, why not? Israel has already been called every kind of nasty name in and out of all the books, have Iran and every other muslim area cursing them and threatening to slaughter Israeli and all the other Jews on the planet….so what’s to lose? Actually, Israel is in the position where they seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t anyway so, they may as well just do what they please. Acquiring West Bank and kicking out the muslims may increase their security and allow more legal settlements. I say “go for it!”.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      They won’t kick out the Muslims, unless they make that necessary for military security. If they were going to do that, they’d have to start with Nazareth, which is on the western side of the Green Line.

    • TheEgyptian says:

      Pragmatically speaking, why not? […] what’s to lose?

      You really didn’t think before you wrote that, did you?

      • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

        If you think that Israel has anything further to lose than it has already lost, more than one of us would dearly like to know.

        • Fergus Mason says:

          “If you think that Israel has anything further to lose than it has already lost, more than one of us would dearly like to know.”

          If Israel acts in a way that leaves it internationally isolated, they can lose it all. How long do you think they can survive without foreign military aid? A week?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            They might do well to get out of that Faustian bargain. And you cannot show that Israel would lose anything more, considering the attitude of the putative POTUS.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “They might do well to get out of that Faustian bargain.”

            Oh please. Israel is largely dependent on imported weapons and munitions. All their combat aircraft come from the USA. All their warships come from Europe. Even most of their small arms are imported. Without foreign military aid they’re screwed. It’s always been that way.

            “And you cannot show that Israel would lose anything more, considering the attitude of the putative POTUS.”

            Obama has done nothing to reduce US aid. All he’s done is expect a client state to listen to its benefactor.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “considering the attitude of the putative POTUS.”

            Two questions, Terry, and I’m genuinely interested in your answers:

            1) Who is better, as POTUS, for the USA – Obama or Ron Paul?

            2) Who is better, as POTUS, for Israel – Obama or Ron Paul?

            In my opinion it’s 1) Paul and 2) Obama. What do you think?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            I say it would be Paul and Paul. To understand how, you need to consider all the ways that Ron Paul would reform American society. In Ron Paul’s world, those who wanted to support the Republic and people of Israel most strongly would have both the permission and the capacity to do it themselves, without either the help or the hindrance of the Department of State or any other agency of the government.

            The lightening of the government load, the promulgation of a gold standard, and so on, would give people the capacity.

            The repeal of the Neutrality Act would give people the permission.

            To understand how important that permission would be, re-read my discussion of the Lavi affair. Israel Aerospace Industries tried to develop their own jet fighter. They built a prototype and even flight-tested it. Then our own State Department threatened a complete withdrawal of all American support—and under the present circumstances, no private foundation could have made up that slack. Result: the Knesset canceled the Lavi project.

            Another part of that capacity might be to re-activate one of many factors that made the difference between victory and defeat in 1948: the Machal, or “Volunteers from Outside the Land.”

            Add this to it: Ron Paul has said, on the record, that he would tell the Israelis to do what they had to do. And he wouldn’t cut off funds from Israel only. He would cut them off from all the world.

          • Fergus Mason says:

            “those who wanted to support the Republic and people of Israel most strongly would have both the permission and the capacity to do it themselves”

            Yes, but that’s not much use when the support that’s needed is a shipload of laser-guided bombs. Not many private citizens can provide those.

            “Israel Aerospace Industries tried to develop their own jet fighter.”

            Yes – based on a US airframe and 50% funded by the USA. I see no reason why the US government should have funded a project that would ultimately compete for exports with its own, and that risked the transfer of technology to unauthorised recipients.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Maybe a few concerned citizens could afford such things if the tax burden were not so heavy. Do you really assume that taxes do not burden an economy appreciably, or make anyone poorer than he otherwise would be?

  6. TheEgyptian says:

    You are asking the wrong question. The question is, what would Israel gain and loose from annexation, compared to creating ghettos or bantustans?

    There is NO additional benefit in 100% annexation, and a lot of drawbacks which I have already illustrated. Concentrating the Palestinians into “self rule” ghettos offers the same benefits with far fewer drawbacks.

    Despite Tonto’s claim to be thinking as a political realist, she/he is framing the argument in ideological terms and objectives.

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