According to an agreement between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz on the formation of a coalition government, the illegal plan to annex the West Bank and the Jordan Valley (Aghwar al-Urdun) was supposed to be implemented starting on July 1 according to the deal of the century, but the occupation plot that was part of the continued occupation policies of the Zionist regime was not carried out at the due date. A number of reasons for the failure of the plan include:
The unity and concord among the Palestinian groups, the fear of reaction from the resistance groups, the COVID-19 pandemic, the US and Trump’s critical conditions, the security considerations in the occupied territories, the opposing stance of the European Union, ignoring Jordan’s concerns, disagreements over the White House’s policies, particularly Donald Trump’s team, the rift within the Zionist regime’s ruling government, and, finally, the concerns over a threat to the consensus about Iranophobia.
In order to study various aspects of the issue and its consequences, we need to delve into diverse subjects and aspects:
- History of the Plan
The issue has its roots in the “Allon Plan”. Shortly after the 1967 War, General Yigal Allon, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Israel under Yitzhak Rabin’s government, proposed his plan on the annexation of the Jordan Valley, which includes lands from the Jordan River in the eastern valley to the West Bank heights as well as the east of Jerusalem and south of Bethlehem. After Allon’s plan, then prime minister of the Zionist regime Yitzhak Rabin also announced during the peace process in the 1990s that Israel’s border lies in the Jordan Valley. Thus, the Zionist regime has always held the belief that such a strategic region would work as a security barrier along the eastern border. Accordingly, the Zionist regime’s incumbent prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced in September 2019 that his government was determined to annex the Jordan Valley and the northern parts of the Dead Sea after winning the Knesset elections. He also believes that Israel’s control over the Jordan Valley would prevent upheavals in the West Bank after integration with the Gaza Strip. By unveiling the deal of the century in January 2020, US President Donald Trump practically endorsed the old plans of Zionists to annex the occupied settlements, including 31 settlements in Area C, as part of the plan that divides the West Bank into three districts.
- Geographical position and strategic importance
The stretch of the Jordan Valley in the northern part of the Dead Sea covers an area of 2,400 square kilometers, extends along Jordan’s border, and includes nearly 30 percent of the West Bank area. Because of its tropical climate and fertile lands, the significant region is regarded as the food source of Palestinians. Basically, the Palestinian National Authority would have no identity without the Ghor region. The region has great potential for agriculture and energy production, has potash and phosphate mines, and hosts many tourism attractions. The considerable Palestinian population living in that region has been practically deprived of those interests as the Zionist regime has occupied 85 percent of the region and has established 90 military and security bases there.
The Aghwar region is also of great political, security and humanitarian significance for Jordan, as it reflects the combination of civilizations, particularly the common interests of the Jordanian and Palestinian nations. The occupation of this region would seriously threaten the vital interests of Jordan in that area. The region was fully under Jordanian sovereignty until before the 1967 War. Therefore, a full occupation of this region would terminate the Wadi Araba Treaty between Jordan and the Zionist regime. Most importantly, the Zionist occupation of that region will prepare the ground for the Zionists to seize the other Arab territories and governments.
- Possibilities of annexation
Although Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the annexation plan with the pledge of winning the Knesset elections, such pledges could be assessed from three viewpoints.
- The occupying nature of Zionists is based upon the ritual ideas embedded in the Torah and the ideology of Ben-Gurion, the founder of the Zionist regime. These ideas entail control over not only the entire West Bank and western parts of the Jordan Riverbut also over the eastern side of the Jordan River. As a result, the Zionist regime has violated all resolutions passed by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assemblyand has brazenly constructed 700 settlements in the West Bank and 200 other ones in East Jerusalem. Israel is now trying to carry out the unilateral security plan initiated by the United States of America, known as the deal of the century, and intends to legitimize the plan on the basis of a bill ratified by the Knesset and confirmation from the US without referring the case to the international institutions.
- Netanyahu’s main objective is to become a prime minister to have taken power for a quarter-century in the usurper Israeli government, and such purpose comes with pledges to continue occupation based on extreme right policies of the Zionist regime to ensure the security of a united Jewish government. On the other hand, Netanyahu needs to get rid of the major corruption scandals involving him and his family in whatever way possible, and such a process would be impossible without enjoying political impunity. Thus, although Netanyahu failed to garner the majority of votes in the third round of the Knesset elections, he came up with a plan to consolidate his position by agreeing to form a provisional government with his rival Benny Gantz in the Blue and White alliance for a 36-months, with Netanyahu serving as prime minister only for the first half and even the posts in the cabinet being shared. However, Netanyahu will undoubtedly resort to every option to get through this stage and stabilize his political position, including by annexing all newly-constructed settlements, especially in the Azaz region, before the end of US President Donald Trump’s term.
- The deal of the century is an entirely American-Zionist initiative with to ensure the security of the Zionist regime. One of the main purposes of the plan is the unilateral implementation of the annexation of the Zionist settlements to Area C, a division defined in the Oslo Accord on East Jerusalem. Such a project does not place any value on supervision from the international institutions, be it the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly, and even the whole United Nations Resolutions will become null and void after implementation of the plan. In that case, the Zionist regime will be occupying the eastern banks of the Jordan River and the Dead Seaand will create only a path under its security surveillance for the Palestinians crossing to Jordan.
- Disagreements and reactions in the process of implementing the annexation plan
- Rifts within the Zionist regime; The disputes between two groups in the Zionist regime favoring annexation arise from the minimum and maximum limit of annexation. Moreover, Netanyahu has concealed his objectives regarding the plan and details of the annexation plot and refuses to reveal them.
- Rifts in the US; Two groups in the White House are tasked with implementing the deal of the century in the management arena: first, the group supervised by Washington’s ambassador to Tel Aviv David Friedman, and, the second, the group run by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Both groups have close ties with Trump, but the first one is leaning towards the extreme right ideologies in Israel and believes that the annexation plan must be implemented unilaterally right now. The second group, which is more aligned with the ideas of Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Alliance, believes that the annexation plan should be carried out in coordination with the Palestinian and Jordanian sides and after consultations with the US’ allies in the region.
- Therefore, without commitment to the Israeli regime’s timeline for the annexation plan, Washington hopes for the obligatory participation of the Palestinian National Authority in the deal of the century, so that the refusal to participate would allow the Israeli regime to have the freedom to carry out the plan unilaterally. Meanwhile, it is impossible to ignore Washington’s vigilance in dealing with the annexation plan because of its concerns about the outbreak of political crises in Jordan and Palestine, as well as about the dissolution of the Palestinian National Authority and the consequent regional crises.
- Europe’s reaction; Despite allying itself with the Israeli regime, particularly in the United Nations processes, the European Union is concerned about the unilateral annexation plan. Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU and the UN Security Council, voiced its concern about a unilateral implementation of the annexation plan, but it is under the pressure of commitment to the international norms and a historical loyalty to the Israeli regime. As a result, Germany has adopted the policy of exerting targeted pressure on the Israeli regime to delay the annexation plan. The other EU countries have also made efforts to design punitive measures against the Israeli regime, including a ban on its participation in the cooperation agreements, specifically the scientific and academic cooperation, and imposing sanctions on subsections of the bilateral relations.
- Russia’s interaction; Russia opposed the deal of the century and denounced it as a violation of the international resolutions on the peace process. However, during the process of the annexation plan, Russia adopted a smart policy like those of the Zionist regime’s allies. Thus, Russia voiced concern and described the Israeli regime’s unilateral measure in the annexation of the West Bank as being in contravention of the international regulations.
- The Arabic and Islamic attitudes; This attitude generally dismisses the annexation plan. The foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation announced after a recent meeting that they oppose and reject any unilateral policy of the Israeli regime that would change the demographic composition, geography, and status of the Palestinian territories.
- Implementation of the annexation plan to any extent would spell the forced displacement of Palestinians, a breach of the peace process agreements, and finally the invalidity of the independent Palestinian government.
- Despite a suspension of the plan, there are two likely scenarios: postponing the plan until the US elections, or annexing the three districts without the Jordan Valley.
Anyway, the outbreak of the Palestinian nation’s Intifada and the Islamic resistance’s coordinated action will definitely take place.
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)