Netanyahu’s Land-Grab Strategy

Behind the smokescreen of the broader Mideast chaos, Israel pursues a strategy of gobbling up Palestinian lands to establish de facto control of the West Bank while confining indigenous Arabs to isolated cantons, explains Alon Ben-Meir.

By Alon Ben-Meir

Israel’s continued settlement activity — whether retroactively approving “unauthorized” outposts or advancing plans for new units as was recently announced — represents yet another nail in the coffin of the peace process. The settlements have become nothing but Israel’s self-entrapment, threatening its very existence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners, however, are not concerned about the prospective dire repercussions of settlement activity. They put the sanctity of the land above any other consideration, and view the settlement enterprise as the prerequisite to repossessing the entire historic “land of Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, in opposition to President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran. (Screen shot from CNN broadcast)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, in opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. (Screen shot from CNN broadcast)

Netanyahu is not deterred by the criticism and condemnation from the international community. He takes the position that building new housing units is largely in settlements that will eventually be part of a final status deal in exchange for land swaps, as if he has the right to unilaterally decide which settlements will be incorporated to Israel proper without an agreement with the Palestinians.

As he sees it, Israel has been building settlements for nearly five decades, and in spite of that it has not suffered any adverse consequences for its defiance of the international consensus against the settlements. Why should he worry about it now, when the international community is preoccupied with so many other conflicts in the Middle East and is unlikely to take any punitive measure against Israel other than expressing the usual indignation?

Netanyahu is even less concerned about the Palestinians’ claim that Israel’s creeping annexation of their territory creates irreversible facts on the ground that would deny them a state of their own under a two-state solution.

Netanyahu counters this argument by repeating his slogan that Israel is prepared to enter negotiations unconditionally, and that the settlements do not represent any obstacle to peace. In the same breath, however, he publicly and repeatedly states that the Jews have an inalienable historic right to the entire “land of Israel,” especially the West Bank. As such, he asserts, Israel is not an occupying power and has the inherent right to establish settlements on any part of its historic land.

Divided Arabs

Netanyahu is also not bothered by the reaction of the Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, as on the surface settlement activity puts them on the defensive precisely when they are reaching out to Israel.

Graffiti on the Palestinian side of Israel's "separation wall" recalls the words of John F. Kennedy in decrying the Berlin Wall with the words in German, "I am a Berliner." (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)

Graffiti on the Palestinian side of Israel’s “separation wall” recalls the words of John F. Kennedy in decrying the Berlin Wall with the words in German, “I am a Berliner.” (Photo credit: Marc Venezia)

This is not the case, Netanyahu insists. The Arab states are more concerned about Islamic radicalization and in particular the prospective Iranian nuclear threat. In fact, he claims the Arab states are seeking cooperation with Israel in spite of ongoing settlement expansion. They share a common cause with Israel and are focused on their own problems, viewing the Palestinians as nothing but an added burden.

Netanyahu’s message to the Israelis, especially the settlers, is that the construction of illegal outposts will retroactively be legalized, thereby signaling that they can continue this practice with impunity.

It takes Netanyahu’s typical chutzpah to call for demolishing Palestinian villages like Susiya and other housing units built on their own land while retroactively legalizing illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land that were expropriated by Israel, which is nothing less than a travesty.

What message does that send to the international community, and how does that square with Israel’s presumed moral standing among the community of nations? This does not seem to bother him in the least.

Netanyahu dismisses the prospect that his policy would inadvertently lead to one state, as Israel will then face two choices: one, maintain its democratic form of government by granting the Palestinians full citizenship, but in the process lose its Jewish majority and its national identity as a Jewish state; or two, deny the Palestinians citizenship, whereby Israel becomes a de-facto apartheid state, reviled and potentially sanctioned by the international community.

This, however, is not how Netanyahu and company see it. From their perspective, settling a million Jews in Israel will indeed create irreversible facts on the ground, but this is precisely what they want to realize as that would not translate to giving Palestinians Israeli citizenship and equal political rights.

Confining the Palestinians

What Netanyahu has in mind is for the Palestinians to establish their own cantons in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, Jericho, and other cities, governing themselves as they see fit as long as they accept their lot quietly while Israel maintains overall security throughout the West Bank.

An Israeli strike caused a huge explosion in a residential area in Gaza during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. (Photo credit: Al Jazeera)

An Israeli strike caused a huge explosion in a residential area in Gaza during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. (Photo credit: Al Jazeera)

In so doing, Israel will indefinitely remain in control of the West Bank, managing the conflict on a day-to-day basis and dealing with Palestinian violence as it occurs. For him, a state of constant tension is preferred over relinquishing the land.

Netanyahu, however, is totally blinded by his messianic mission, ruling out the possibility that the Palestinians will sooner than later rise, as they are willing to die because they have little left to lose.

In the illuminating new book The Suicide of the Jews (a must read), the futurist Tsvi Bisk describes how the various Zionist branches rationalized the occupation and eventual annexation of all Palestinian land because they truly believe “that compromise on the land issue would not only endanger Jewish redemption but the redemption of all humanity. … For religious Zionists, fidelity to the land was a divine directive and even talk about dividing the land with another people was sacrilegious.”

Netanyahu is a willing hostage to coalition partners he assembled that include staunch proponents of the settlements, such as Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Leave it to him to use his coalition government to provide him with the perfect excuse to continue with his policy; tragically, he is inviting disaster by putting the land above Israel’s national security, if not its very existence.

Repeated polls strongly suggest that a vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want to end their conflict based on a two-state solution. Yet, as long as the opposition political parties cannot unite with a specific and coherent political framework based on the Arab Peace Initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Likud may well form the next government in 2019.

Likewise, as long as the Palestinians remain divided, with many of their leaders steeped in corruption, they play directly into Netanyahu’s hand. They, more than anyone else, will destroy their own prospect of realizing a statehood.

To be sure, unless Israel’s opposition parties coalesce and create a popular movement for peace, and the Palestinians organize their political affairs and negotiate with Israel in unison, it may well be too late to save them both from their own self-inflicted deadly wounds.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. alon@alonben-meir.com           Web: www.alonben-meir.com

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27 comments for “Netanyahu’s Land-Grab Strategy

  1. Iman
    September 10, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for writing this article, especially in light of Netanayhu’s recent video fiasco on ethnic cleansing. As a Palestinian in the diaspora who believes that the current Palestinian leadership is not only complicit in the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories, but has a sort of symbiotic relationship with Israel (as does Hamas), I only have hope: that grass root movements in Israel/Palestine and across the globe continue to grow and help bring justice to the Palestinian people. We must support the call for Boycott and stand side by side to fight injustice. Above all, the Israeli regime cannot be allowed to continue to break the law with impunity.

  2. Bill Bodden
    September 10, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Netanyahu is not deterred by the criticism and condemnation from the international community.

    As long as Netanyahu has a craven White House and U.S. Congress condoning whatever he does, Netanyahu’s only danger that he apparently doesn’t recognize is the potential his leadership and his accomplices have for the moral decadence of Israel that could destroy Israel from the inside. Because present and future occupants of the White House and Congress are also accomplices moral decadence will continue to be part of the American diagnosis.

  3. Abe
    September 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Ben-Meier neglects to mention the parallel land-grab strategy being deployed by Israel against the Syrian Arab Republic:

    “Syrians in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights rallied in protest against the Israeli occupation, illegal oppression of Syrian culture and identity, outspoken plans to permanently annex the Syrian territory and Israel’s use of the Golan for military action against Syria and the support of Al-Qaeda and ISIL linked insurgents in their fight against the Syrian State.”
    Syrians Protest against Israeli Occupation and Planned Annexation of the Golan Heights
    By Christof Lehmann
    http://nsnbc.me/2016/06/27/syrians-protest-against-israeli-occupation-and-planned-annexation-of-the-golan-heights/

    “Israel has for the first time used the illegal home demolition policy it uses in Palestine in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Tel Aviv declared that Israel and the Golan are “part and parcel” and that the international community should get used to the fact that Israel will annex the Syrian territory that holds major energy reserves. Israel also aids “Syrian rebels” via a corridor from which UN blue helmets were displaced.”
    Israel Starts Home Demolitions in Syrian Golan, Plans Annexation
    By Christof Lehmann
    http://nsnbc.me/2016/09/09/israel-starts-home-demolitions-in-syrian-golan-plans-annexation-2/

  4. edward e parker
    September 10, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Why does the world allow this, can anyone answer rationally?

    • Bill Bodden
      September 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Among many factors, probably among the top three or four, are the various members of the Israel Lobby with their ability to bribe courtesans masquerading as representatives of the people in high offices in Washington and a number of European capitals.

    • jaycee
      September 11, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      The “world” doesn’t allow it – as can be seen in overwhelming numbers in numerous UN decisions condemning Israel’s activities. The broad appeal of the BDS movement will only gain more momentum as the situation in Israel becomes ever-more obvious in its parallels to apartheid. The political cover provided by the U.S. in the United Nations is the only reason Israel can get away with what it does. But that cover is not supported by the American people, and thus the necessity to impose (unconstitutional) laws banning the BDS movement. The endgame, likely, will be similar to what happened in South Africa, and will be based on one-state since the settlement project has already upended any chance for two states.

      • Gray
        September 11, 2016 at 9:35 pm

        As Glenn Greenwald and others have written, Senator Dianne Feinstein has used her billionaire husband, Regent Richard Blum, to lean on the University of California if it does not adopt a policy muzzling the BDS movement. The courtesans in California legislature are considering similar legislation for businesses that contract with the State. The San Francisco Chronicle and most of the MSM have been unremarkably silent on these full-frontal assaults on the First Amendment and academic freedom.

        https://theintercept.com/2015/09/25/dianne-feinstein-husband-threaten-univ-calif-demanding-ban-excessive-israel-criticism/

  5. Hillary
    September 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    “Netanyahu, however, is totally blinded by his messianic mission “…..

    The mission of Zionism seems to rule in the Judeo/Christian world no matter how many lives are lost & how long the mission endures.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 10, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      I’m sitting here right now trying to imagine what it would be like if there came a knock on my door, and a soldier were to tell me how I must leave my home right now, and to never return. I sit here and contemplate how stunned I would become to learn how I must abandon my home sweet home, and all because these new people swear by the almighty above how they, and only they must occupy my once familiar environment, because that is the word of God. Not my God but their God said this, and I must obey their God’s edict or die.

      • Realist
        September 11, 2016 at 1:48 am

        Well, that DID happen in America. The “new” people were Europeans and the evicted residents were the Native Americans, aka “Indians.” Most of them got over it, however, usually with a bullet to some vital organ. The “Judeo-Christian” god rules, you know.

        • Joe Tedesky
          September 11, 2016 at 2:24 pm

          Thanks for that Realist. I wanted people who read my comment to think in generic terms, and not necessarily in specific terms to just the Palestintian’s. The historical list of invaded societies is certainly a long one. What is equally perplexing is why in this day and age of elevated protest promoting equal rights, is why no one seems to care or notice the plight of such people as the Palestintian’s. Another good question, would be why does the U.S. continue to devastate other people’s societies when we Americans know how wrong our forefathers were with their treatment of black slaves, and this continents indigenous inhabitants? There is nothing learned from history, if nations continue to promote these kind of terrible crimes against humanity.

          • Joe Tedesky
            September 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

            Listen to Netanyahu describe how the Palestintian’s wish to ethnically cleanse Israel, and listen to the response given by the White House.

            http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.741299

        • dahoit
          September 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm

          Anyone who makes an irrelevant argument,and anyone who agrees with that false stupid argument about 17th to 19th century century people movements,with modern with post ww2 prescriptions against said pre treaty events, is a proponent of the recent illegal mimicking of 17th to 19th actions by Zionism,in total contravention of modern international law.
          Divide and conquer dual citizen moles..

  6. Martin
    September 10, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Net ismerely following his partys exlicit program, the conquering of all biblical (ie mythical) israel as a colonial state for the jewish people. He means it with all it implies. That is the eventual expulsion of all or virtually all the palestinians. Israeli policy is to secure absolute regionalhegemony as a component part of usa world hegemony. There will NEVER be a paleztinian state worthy of the name (having its own armed forces contolling itsbirders and airspace etc) as long as israel exists. The “two state solution” is anever receding mirage. A fantasy.
    Israel is the last colonialist state founded after long after the worldwide repudiation of conialism. Palestinian liberation will only occur as acomponent part of a world revolution that ends us world empire and all colonialism and neocolonialism. Too hard to face and admit? Cast away illusiond and delusiins. Its a fact.

    • Iman
      September 10, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Hear hear!

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      September 12, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      No, Israel was founded when colonialism was still being defended. It was years later, over a decades-long period, that the colonies gained their independence.

  7. Bill Bodden
    September 10, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Even if a peace agreement were achieved between Israel and the Palestinians there would still be many problems for one, two or more generations because of the intense racism embedded in many Israelis. They would continue very much like the KKK and other arch-segregationists in the Deep South, many of whose progeny are still active racists a half century after the passage of civil rights acts. Witness Trump and some of his supporters and other Republicans trying to rig voting laws to restrict African-American votes.

    • Harvey McGeorge
      September 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      The voting laws are to restrict illegal immigrants from having the ability to vote. The blacks not being able to vote is a bonus.

  8. Peter Loeb
    September 12, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Thanks for this article and just as much to the many excellent
    and cogent commenters. I have circulated the article and
    unfortunately am unable to add all the excellent contributions.

    —–Peter Loeb , Boston, MA, USA

  9. bozhidar balkas
    September 12, 2016 at 9:05 am

    And now’s the time for israeli government to set up a second state in the WB for the multiethnic and multiracial ‘jews’ and palestinians; ruled by mostly white ‘jews’; just like the first israel.

    But, nevertheless, ‘jews’ gaining too little, according to OT and most Christians. Israel, according to Yahweh and Jesus is supposed to stretch from Cairo to Baghdad.
    If that is not ever achieved or is not achievable, Yahweh and Jesus lied to ‘jews’ and christians.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      September 12, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Are you denying that the Jews are the Jews?

  10. J'hon Doe II
    September 12, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Netanyahu has ruled the state of Israel for twenty years now. Will he some day be declared a murderous dictator?
    ::

    Netanyahu a ‘danger’ to Israel, say 200 security veterans

    A group of Israeli generals have launched an unprecedented attack on the prime minister as he prepares to address the US Congress

    Jonathan Cook
    Sunday 1 March 2015

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/netanyahu-danger-israel-say-200-security-veterans-615504482

  11. TellTheTruth-2
    September 12, 2016 at 11:01 am

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s major sources of instability. Americans are directly connected to this conflict, and increasingly imperiled by its devastation. … http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

  12. Sarah Jenkins
    September 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Neturei karta

    “To this day Torah Jewry remains forever loyal to its faith. Zionists want the world to believe that they are the representatives of the entire Jewish people. This is false! The Jewish people never chose them as their leaders.

    The Zionists have deceived many well meaning Jewish people via terror, trickery and false propaganda. They have at their disposal the use of a nearly universally subservient media. Whoever attempts to criticize them puts his livelihood and, at times, his very life in danger.

    However, despite the media blackout and easy resort to terror the simple truth remains unrefuted and irrefutable: ACCORDING TO THE JEWISH FAITH AND TORAH LAW THE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE FORBIDDEN TO HAVE THEIR OWN STATE WHILE AWAITING THE MESSIANIC ERA!
    From neturei karta – Jews United Against Zionism:

    “The Creator gave us the Holy Land thousands of years ago. Yet, when we sinned, He took it away and sent us into exile. Since that time our task is to wait for Him to send the Messiah. At that time, the Creator alone, without any human being lifting a hand or saying a word, will bring us together and take us out of exile. He will likewise establish universal peace among all mankind and all will serve Him in good will.

    Some religious Jews, confused by Zionist propaganda quote Biblical verses that state that G-d gave the children of Israel the Holy Land. They overlook, unfortunately, those verses which say that He took it away due to our sins. They further ignore those prophecies which explicitly describe the last exile’s conclusion as a Divine, not a human process. ”

    http://www.nkusadotorg/AboutUs/Zionism/judaism_isnot_zionism.cfm

    neturei karta is the oldest anti-Zionist Jewish organization, founded in the 40s to oppose Rothschild-Israel. Truetorahjews is one of the others. They’re censored in Rothschild-AP and Rothschild-Reuters and US Zionist-controlled media.
    Rothschild-sponsored Illuminati Cyrus Scofield published the Scofield bible in 1909; edited and with many footnotes with no biblical validity added to support the creation of anti-Torah eretz-Israel. The creation of the anti-Torah Christian Zionist movement is probably at least as important as the suppression of anti-Zionist Judaism in the media.
    neturei karta is the ADL’s #1 anti-semitic organization; a fact that provides major insight on ADL’s correlation with religious Judaism.

    True Torah Jews
    “Zionists and Nazis Worked Together to Sow the Seeds of Anti-Semitism in Germany
    Would the contemporary Zionists dare admit that their forebears forsook the Jews in their worst hour? That the Zionist never perceived the safety of the Jews as part of their goal?

    Yes, it was the Zionists who supported Nazism, collaborated with the Nazis, identified with Nazism – all due to the ideology of Zionism, which was in effect anti-Semitic.”
    http://www.truetorahjewsdotorg/zionists-and-nazis-worked-together-sow-seeds-anti-semitism-germany

    by a Christian aware of the warnings about end-time deceptions in the bible

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      September 12, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      “Rothschild-AP and Rothschild-Reuters and US Zionist-controlled media”? I’m pro-Palestine, but I despise anti-Semitism – and I rather doubt that those Jewish groups you cite believe in such anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. And End Times? Speaking as an atheist, you showed yourself to be a crank.

  13. richard vajs
    September 12, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    The one thing that the Zionists reckon on which is false is the idea that, “they will get used to it”. Netanyahu, probably believes time is on his side, i.e. the longer the land that was stolen remains with the thieves, the more normal their possession will seem. Actually, the respecters of the thieves are becoming fewer. The fairytale presented by the old movie, “Exodus”, is becoming sillier and more citizens of the World are appalled by the theft than fooled by it anymore. Actually time is against the thieving Israelis – soon it will even be impossible for them to just return the stolen land without having also to pay a very severe penalty also for allowing the sin to endure.

  14. dahoit
    September 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Yahoos recent bombast about Palestinians being ethnic cleanser supporters is a chutzpah as one can be,but Some NYT scum think it might be a brilliant move.
    I’m sure the resident zionist moles here might also.
    “I am for the Palestinians but I hate antisemitism.”sheesh.
    Antisemitisms rise can be directly laid at Yahoos and all their other leaders feet,a collection of wacky hate breeders.
    And it will subside when Israel does the right thing.
    Will one synagogue in America lead the way?Or one in Israel?We are waiting,and waiting and waiting and waiting,for the UFOS,seems more likely.

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