Stop Annexation

A roundup of statements from prominent Israeli political figures and security experts.

Members of Knesset

MK Nitzan Horowitz, Chair, Meretz: “The coalition agreement states an explicit date for the process of annexing the territories. This annexation is something that no Israeli government has dared to do so far. A full annexation, that annexes millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, and then ends the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state, which are legitimate aspirations. This also puts an end to a Jewish and democratic state, because it will bring Israel to an apartheid state. This is the end of everything we believe in as a Jewish and democratic state.

I say two states to two peoples, a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, the state does not mean only Jews, God forbid, there are non-Jews here, but as part of the compromise, we maintain an existing State of Israel and alongside it a Palestinian state. Then there will be Jewish immigration here and a Palestinian immigration to the territories of the Palestinian state. Annexation will ruin both sides. Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi legitimized this by signing the agreement. We are getting rid of corona disease and they are going to infect us with a much more serious disease that we cannot get rid of. Anyone who wants annexation will put an end to the Zionist vision and is anti-Zionist.”

MK Ram Ben Barak, Yesh Atid-Telem (former deputy director of Mossad): “The fifth Netanyahu government is going to make a very dangerous move for Israel’s national security. Unilateral annexation will undermine the Zionist idea and founding principles of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, bring about the collapse of the PA and severely harm the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, all for the sake of temporary political achievement.”

MK Alon Schuster, Blue and White: “We want to bring a plan that will contribute to an agreement in the region. One-sided steps of annexation rather than developing the places we want to be, is not just a security threat, it’s a disaster for Israel’s character, and maybe heaven forbid its existence.”

MK Yair Lapid, Chair, Yesh Atid: “…There will be unilateral annexation. The peace treaty with Jordan will be cancelled. Irreversible damage to our relations with the Democratic party and the American Jewish community in the United States.”

MK Merav Michaeli, Labor: “[It is clear] that the peace agreement signed by Yitzhak Rabin would be canceled in the case of unilateral annexation. But Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli want to vote in favor of it, from within a corrupt annexation government. 90% of Labor party members really don’t want it. Tomorrow, vote against entering the annexation and immunity government and for saving the Labor party.”

Minister of Welfare Itzik Shmuli, Labor: “Unilateral annexation is at odds with the national interest of the state. There is no doubt that the prime minister is currently very motivated to advance this move, but I will not support it. Our ability to delay the move is much greater within the government. There are areas in which the Labor Party also wants sovereignty. But if it is unilateral, then it is inappropriate. There are unclear components of the Trump program. If the intention is to acquire only those components, it will bring Israel to a dead end.”

MK Ofer Shelah, Yesh Atid: “Yesterday, Netanyahu received Ashkenazi and Gantz’s written permission to do just the opposite: unilateral annexation of the settlements, which would increase friction on the ground — with countries such as Egypt and Jordan — and eliminate the political possibility of an agreement. According to the plan, the area that was to be under our security control until the establishment of a Palestinian state, is now Israel forever and ever. No wonder Yariv Levin was photographed smiling broadly yesterday: not only did the two former chiefs of staff approve the annihilation of the courts, but also the chances of separation from the Palestinians.”

MK Amir Peretz, Chair, Labor Party: Regarding the annexation clause in the coalition agreement: “We were able to dramatically reduce the government’s ability to annex. Today, there is a majority in the Knesset for annexation or sovereignty. We will not vote for it and do everything possible to prevent annexation. The only proposal that will be presented to the Knesset will be one that is confirmed by the US and will not harm existing peace agreements.”

Israeli Former Officials

Commanders for Israel’s Security ad signed by 220 former generals: “Do not proceed with unilateral annexation, for Israel will have no control over the ensuing chain reaction.”

Former Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen: “I believe that a step of annexation, a large step of about 30%, is likely to destabilize the security situation, bring about a crisis with the Arab World, a crisis with Europe. And, what I fear the most, even if nothing happens and there will be total silence, I fear the most that we are heading towards the option of forming a de facto one-state, which is a disaster for the democratic and Jewish State of Israel.”

Former Shin Bet Director Ami Ayalon, former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and former commander of the IDF Central Command Gadi Shamni: “Rescuing Israel from the impossible dilemma of giving up its Jewish identity by granting annexed Palestinians equal rights or forfeiting its democracy by depriving them of those rights may turn out to be a mission impossible. The awakening of many here in Israel and some in the United States to the imminence of this danger offers some hope that steps might be taken during the coming 10 weeks in time to prevent this dire outcome. Deterring unilateral annexation is both urgent and essential. Those who care for Israel’s future as a secure Jewish democracy that upholds the values enshrined in its declaration of independence must act now.”

Former IDF Central Command Head Avi Mizrahi: “A unilateral move is a mistake. If it happens, it won’t pass quietly. The IDF must be ready for any scenario, prepare itself not to be caught unready. I don’t see the PA abandoning its current standing but I fear its public will drag it there.”

Former MK Colette Avital: “…I do oppose the annexation of Judea and Samaria to the State of Israel. I think such a move would lead to serious consequences in the field. […] We will pay an expensive price for it and I really wonder if the price is worth us canceling the agreement with Jordan. The Palestinians will cancel the agreements with us and we will have to look after them again. The annexation has consequences that we will pay dearly for.”

Former MK Ksenia Svetlova, Director of the Program on Israel-Middle East Relations at the Mitvim Institute: “Any annexation move will destabilize Israel’s relations with Arab states and might result in another violent outbreak in the West Bank. It will kill any hope for peaceful solution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and create a quagmire reality of a one-state where different nations will have different set of laws and rights.”

56 Former MKs: “Annexation would mean a fatal blow to the possibility of peace and the establishment of an Apartheid State. Democracy, equality and social justice all depend on a just peace and an end to the Occupation.”

Col. (Res.) Dr. Shaul Arieli: “This is what the State of Israel might look like at the end of this summer, if the Israeli government annexes Jewish settlements in the West Bank! This will be the final blow to the Zionist vision of a democratic state with a Jewish majority, which upholds a society in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel: “Promoting steps towards annexation is expected to lead to a chain of negative consequences for Israel, central ones are listed below: increased risk of violence, disruption and terrorism in Judea and Samaria and escalation with Hamas in Gaza; The possibility of revoking security coordination with the PA; The collapse of the PA (or the ‘return of the keys’), in the case of widespread annexation, Israel would be forced to take responsibility for about two and a half million Palestinians; Investment of national resources in annexation – necessarily at the expense of restoring the Israeli economy; And more generally – reinforcing the ‘way of resistance’ identified with Hamas over the ‘way of negotiation’ identified with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The annexation moves can form a very long border in need of protection, prevent future negotiations and may also lead to increased international recognition of Palestinian claims…

Another significant risk is linked to Israel’s relationship with Egypt and Jordan. The Jordanian response to the annexation could lead to a breach of cooperation with it in securing Israel’s longest border, and even in the peace agreement, and similar consequences are also possible in the context of relations with Egypt. With the exception of the current President of the United States, who supports this course, it seems that no one in the world or in the Middle East will recognize the annexed territory as part of the State of Israel. On the other hand, there will be elements that may recognize Palestinian rights to the state in all of Judea and Samaria… In these circumstances, the unanimous recommendation to the new government is to avoid unilateral annexation in the West Bank.”

Former diplomat Nadav Tamir, Board Member at Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies and former adviser to President Peres: “Annexation of Palestinian territory will place Israel on the path to a binational catastrophe. It will culminate in one of two scenarios – an apartheid state or yet another Arab state in the Middle East. Both scenarios signal an end to the Zionist dream. It will wipe out the Palestinian Authority and its life-saving security coordination with Israel, boost radical Palestinian forces and pose a real threat to one of Israel’s major strategic assets, the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom. Annexation will finalize the divorce between Israel and the US Democratic Party and deepen the alienation of the liberal progressive majority in the most important country in the world and Israel’s greatest ally. Annexation will push away the majority of the US Jewish community and alienate most Diaspora Jewry, dealing a fatal blow to our existence as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Amb. (Ret.) Colette Avital, Board Member at the Mitvim Institute and former MK: “Annexation puts an end to the option of a Palestinian state. It is the beginning of apartheid. And it turns Israel into a pariah state that rejects International law.”

Former MK Zehava Galon: “To begin to understand how reality here is going to look, it’s worth talking about how it looks now. Not for nothing have 56 former ministers and MKs and dozens of senior security officers announced their opposition to annexation. The Israeli regime in the territories is discriminatory. The Palestinians don’t get to vote for those lying to them in election campaigns. It’s permitted to torture them, jail their children, arrest them without trial and extend their detention for years. It’s permitted to steal their land and raid their homes in the middle of the night, without a warrant or even a suspicion, as a routine activity in the field.”

Amb. (ret.) Barukh Binah, Policy Fellow at the Mitvim Institute and former Deputy Director General for North America at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “For as long as the territories were not annexed we could have maintained that the situation was not final, that there would be some territories left to negotiate for peace, and that this would also serve as the guarantor of Israel’s democratic nature. Based on this premise I could have appealed to our brethren in the U.S. to continue supporting us even while disagreeing with the continued stalemate. However, an upcoming annexation will put an inglorious end to our democracy as well as to our unique link with the rest of Jewish people.”

Brig. Gen. (Res.) Ilan Paz: “Our national priorities have become unhinged. It is essential that we complete the struggle against the Corona epidemic, rehabilitate the economy and the health care system, prepare to meet military threats north (Syria, Hezbollah) and east (Iran), and heal divisions within Israeli society, before we add an enormous crisis on multiple fronts and of our own makings.”

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amnon Reshef: “Unilateral annexation, even limited in scope, will […] signify to the Palestinians that Israel has decided to put an end to the age of agreements, rule permanently in the West Bank, and unilaterally determine the boundaries of its control in the territories, thereby terminating their hopes for independence. Palestinians who have until now chosen to cooperate with Israel and ease tension on the ground – above all the leadership of the PA and its security forces – will immediately lose whatever remains of their public legitimacy. In the wake of annexation, cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli security forces will be denounced as collaboration with the occupation and a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. From there it is but a small step towards the collapse of the PA and widespread anarchy, something the Hamas and other extremists are well positioned to exploit.

Former Shin Bet Deputy Chief Arie Pellman: “Any peace agreement will involve annexation of some territory. In contrast to annexation prescribed by agreement, unilateral annexation would set in motion a perilous domino effect that could put an end to Israel as a secure Jewish democracy.”

Former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni: “An annexation of around 30 percent of the West Bank might be carried out under an understanding between Israel and the United States, but not one between both sides of a peace treaty: Israel and the Palestinians. That means it move us past the point of no return in the quest for peace.”

Former Commander of the IDF Central Command Gadi Shamni: “For the IDF, it doesn’t matter if there is an eruption following annexation. The IDF knows how to handle it, but that is not the solution – it’s important to understand. We’re going to put ourselves in an irreversible situation that will undermine stability of the PA to the point of its collapse. There’s a possibility of violence, of a chaotic situation, but there are far more serious things. The minimum scenario is annexing 30% of the area, which is what is being talked about now, the settlers would like much more, want to control Highway 60 and want to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in general. The immediate implication is the addition of 350,000 Palestinians to the State of Israel, tomorrow morning the PA collapse, there is no doubt that it will lead to Hamas takeovers, armed gangs, Islamic Jihad, and eventually the IDF take over the entire territory.”

Gilead Sher: “Needless to say, no matter the geographic extent, unilateral WestBank annexation by Israel will initiate a perilous and nearly irreversible process. It will endanger Israel on numerous fronts, possibly speeding up the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.”

Joel Singer, Legal Adviser of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1993-1996: “The only reason for Bibi to seek to re-apply Israeli law to the settlements, this time through Knesset legislation, is to achieve the political goal of irreversibly making the settlements and surrounding territories part of Israel and virtually beyond negotiation, effectively preventing the two-state solution. For this reason, I have referred to unilaterally annexing the Israeli settlements as a “poison pill” to Middle East peace.”

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Matan Vilnai: “No less than seven individual bills have been put in the Knesset to annex areas in the Judea and Samaria area or the entire area of Judea and Samaria using laundered phrases such as applying the law whose purpose is to deceive the public as if it were a cost-free measure. These are Knesset members seeking political gain at the expense of the security of their state and their Jewish community. Applying sovereignty = annexation. Shame on you.” – May 4, 2020

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Amos Gilead: “The annexation plan is a blow that can cause serious harm to Israel’s national security. The main problem lies in the stability of the eastern border. Jordan’s Hashemite Kingdom has become an ally of Israel and transformed the region into a profoundly strategic space, until the Israel-Iraq border. It is a safe space that, unlike in the past, terror does not penetrate from there – no ‘redeemers,’ as they were called in the 1950s, and no terrorists as they call it today. Except for individual incidents, the eastern border is a quiet border. ‘Vanishing Hand’ thwarted attacks, many thanks to the efficiency of the Jordanians and to their cooperation, which is a strategic asset. All of that could change as soon as Israel annexes – a move that to Jordan will be a violation of the peace agreement. If Jordan’s government will be undermined, Iran’s and Hezbollah’s appetite for a foothold there—and everyone wants a foothold there—will prevail. Why undermine Israeli security in unreasonable political moves?”

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “Unilateral annexation, occupation of another people and their oppression cannot be accepted in the world, and such a step will inevitably lead to the use of political and economic tools against Israel. The damage to our systems could be enormous. These are difficult things. I suppose they will be quoted in our public discourse in the country and perhaps also in the reactions that will come from outside the State of Israel, especially when written by someone who was one of the only 12 prime ministers to serve in the brief history of the State of Israel.”