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

VIDEO
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal