The reality that any move by the new Israeli government to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank will be coordinated with the Trump Administration as part of the peace plan it released earlier this year seemed to have been understood by most of the Australian media.
The Australian’s April 29 report stated that “The US says it is ready to recognise Israel’s annexation of much of the West Bank but wants the new unity government to negotiate with the Palestinians.” It noted that if the Palestinians accept the US plan, they “would be granted a sovereign but demilitarised state, along with promises of major investment. The Palestinian state’s capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the contested holy city which would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.”
The Daily Telegraph (April 29) correctly reported that “the US is ready to recognise Israel’s annexation of much of the West Bank but asked the new unity government to negotiate with Palestine” on his “Middle East ‘vision’”.
Except, of course, if the Palestinian leadership refuses to negotiate, US President Donald Trump will not hand them a veto over the plan moving forward.
But a May 15 report in the same paper tendentiously said annexation “would crush already faint Palestinian hopes of establishing a viable state alongside Israel, on lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.”
On SBS TV “World News” (May 18) Gareth Boreham said that the new Israeli government “will proceed with the annexation of parts of the West Bank.” Boreham reported that Izzat Abdulhadi, Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, called annexation “immoral and illegal” and predicted “it will completely undermine a legitimate process to the two-state solution… In addition to catastrophic impact on the peace and stability in the Middle East region.”
Yet Abdulhadi’s employers in the Palestinian Authority have refused repeated Israeli offers to create a Palestinian state since 2000 – which is the real catastrophe undermining “peace and stability”.
The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Herald Sun and the West Australian (May 19) news reports all opened with fact that Israeli PM Netanyahu has said Israel will annex West Bank settlements “pending US approval”.
On ABC TV “The World” (May 18), ABC Middle East correspondent Eric Tlozek said, with some hyperbole, “The key part of the deal for this government, the deal that broke 17 months of political deadlock here in Israel, is an agreement to move forward with the annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. The United States says it will recognise Israeli annexation of areas designated under the Trump peace plan which was released earlier this year, but major European nations are warning the move would be a grievous breach of international law.”
In the Hobart Mercury (May 11), Greg Barns fulminated that Israel applying sovereignty in the West Bank would be a “new nightmare” and Australians who are focused on the coronavirus should “consider the plight of a people whose lives and destiny are immeasurably worse than ours will ever be in this land.”
Barns called the Trump Administration “a hardline Zionist machine rubber-stamping every outrage committed by the Netanyahu Government” and quoted Palestinian Fawaz Turki, who said any annexation would end the Palestinian “dream of ever becoming… independent… in their own state,” dooming “them to perpetual subjugation [in] an apartheid state.”
Responding to Barns in a published piece in the Mercury (May 21), AIJAC’s Allon Lee cautioned that “the extent” of any Israeli move to apply sovereignty and whether it even “actually happens, remains unclear.”
Any such move, Lee noted, would happen “in the context of the Trump Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal, setting out a path for an independent Palestinian state. That state would include 70 per cent of the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip whose borders would be enlarged with land Israel will cede to it.”
He pointed out that the Palestinians rule 40% of the West Bank and all of Gaza and there is an opportunity for a Palestinian state to be created but, as with all previous offers of a state, “the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected it.”
He also noted that “the Jewish people’s right to settle in the West Bank was recognised by the UN and predecessor the League of Nations. With no legitimate sovereign power succeeding British rule in 1948, it can be argued this right remains legally valid.”