This week’s vote by the Likud Party Central Committee calling for imposition of Israeli sovereignty over all West Bank settlements demonstrates once again the commitment of Israel’s ruling party to the annexation of large portions of the West Bank.
While this vote may be largely symbolic, it is just the latest in a never-ending series of actions taken by Israel’s government and ruling parties to destroy the prospects for a two-state solution.
The resolution, which passed unanimously and with the public support of senior Israeli ministers, urges “Likud’s elected leaders to work to allow unhindered construction and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria.” While in previous years Prime Minister Netanyahu blocked the passage of similar measures, he allowed this one to proceed – perhaps in an attempt to shore up his political base. The vote is official confirmation of what has long been clear: Netanyahu’s party is determined to ensure the relentless expansion and entrenchment of settlements and prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
President Trump bears responsibility for laying the groundwork and providing cover for these steps. By breaking with decades of bipartisan policy and refusing to support the two-state solution or seriously opposing settlement expansion, his administration has given a green light to the destructive plans of the settlement movement. By unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in advance of a peace agreement, the president has told the Netanyahu government that it is free to act with contempt for the peace process and for the Palestinians, and without fear of rebuke from the United States.
Friends of Israel and leaders of the Jewish community in the US and around the world must object to this vote and to other pro-annexation policies – just as they would to any unilateral Palestinian efforts to change “facts on the ground.”
The Likud Party and its allies in the settler movement are leading Israel down a path that would ultimately destroy the chances of the country remaining both democratic in nature and Jewish in character. While some West Bank settlements will likely become part of the state of Israel under a two-state agreement, this can only happen through serious negotiations between the two parties. Likud’s vote is further proof – if any was needed – that Israel’s present leaders are un-interested in negotiations, peace and the two-state solution.
Israel’s future depends on new leadership willing to chart a different path, one that leads to a two-state agreement, real security and the preservation of Israel’s democracy and Jewish character. Until that new leadership comes to pass, those of us committed to an Israel that is both democratic and Jewish in nature must do everything we can to keep that path open – in particular by fighting the growing rush to annexation that gained steam with this weekend’s vote.