The Israelis who want to take rather than give away territory: Government faction opposes idea of Palestinian state

Ministers in the ruling coalition are preparing details of their own vision for how Israel should proceed unilaterally after the current round of peace talks fails

As the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, resumed talks in Jerusalem in the quest to create “two states for two people”, a vocal faction in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is, more openly than ever, opposing the very idea of a Palestinian state – and putting forward its own plans to take, rather than give away, territory.

Ministers in Mr Netanyahu’s ruling coalition and leaders of his party, the Likud, are in revolt against the international community’s long-held consensus that there should be two states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

While once content to simply voice their opposition to giving up what they see as Jewish land or rights in the West Bank, these two-state opponents have gone beyond shouting “No” and are preparing details of their own vision for how Israel should proceed unilaterally after the current round of peace talks fails – which they say is inevitable.

“The day after peace talks fail, we need to have Plan B,” said Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely, a rising star in the Likud party and Deputy Minister of Transport in Mr Netanyahu’s government.

Instead of a sovereign Palestinian nation arising in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital – which has been the focus of on-again, off-again peace negotiations since the Oslo Accords in 1993 – the two-state opponents envision Israel annexing large parts of the West Bank.

As for the Gaza Strip and its 1.6 million inhabitants, which Palestinians consider central to any future nation, the Israeli expansionists say Gaza should be abandoned to its own fate – to be eventually absorbed by Egypt or left as a hostile semi-state, run by the Islamist militant organisation Hamas.

As for the Palestinians living in the West Bank, the annexationists suggest that they be offered Israeli citizenship or residency, or be made the responsibility of Jordan. “I think we should no longer think of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but Palestinian settlements in Israel,” Danny Danon, the Deputy Defence Minister, said.

Mr Danon, recently elected to head the central committee of the Likud party, imagines an archipelago of Palestinian cities – Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron – as Arab islands in an Israeli sea. “The Jewish people are not settlers in the West Bank, but Israel will make the Palestinians settlers and Jordan will be the one taking control over Palestinians and that’s it,” Mr Danon told Israel’s Channel 1 this summer.

Mr Netanyahu declared himself an advocate for two states in 2009. He repeated his commitment to the idea last month – as long as Israel’s security demands are met and the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

But opponents and sceptics of the two-state solution represent a formidable bloc in the Israeli government and parliament. Those who would unilaterally annex all or part of the West Bank comprise a smaller but still-potent number.

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (EPA) US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (EPA)
Though they are sometimes depicted as a right-wing fringe, there is considerable support for their ideas. A survey of Jewish Israelis for Ariel University, which is in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, found that 35 per cent said the government should annex all the land of Judea and Samaria – the biblical names some use to describe the West Bank.

Palestinian leaders and their negotiating team say the ideas put forward by the annexationists reveal Israel’s true heart. Israeli leaders, they say, do not really want a deal and instead want to keep the land they won from Jordan in the 1967 war and have occupied since.

Of course, the Palestinians have their own expansionists who would like to take all of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has for decades waged a campaign of violence against Israeli military and civilian targets.

In academic and activist circles, there is also support for a bi-national solution among Palestinians who have grown frustrated with a long-delayed peace process.

Many Israeli leaders who support the two-state solution acknowledge that they are tired of failure and cynical about prospects for a US-brokered deal. But they say the idea of annexing the West Bank is not only unrealistic but also incendiary.

“The fact that the right wing is thinking about solutions without the two states worries me,” said Hilik Bar, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli parliament and a member of the Labor Party.

He said that as painful as it will be to surrender most of the West Bank for a Palestinian state, it is necessary to end the conflict and to keep Israel both Jewish and democratic. If all of the Palestinians in the West Bank became Israeli citizens, they would wield tremendous influence in Israel’s government and could dilute the nation’s Jewish character.

The annexationists say they have solutions to that problem ranging from creating high bars for citizenship to the immigration of a million or more Jews from around the world. The status quo will not hold, they argue, and it is time to pursue their goals in the open.

© The Washington Post

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...