The Israeli government would like to “annex” “settlements” in which Israeli citizens reside in Judea and Samaria, terms recognizing the connection of Jews to the territories, also known as the West Bank (of the Jordan River), which seems to imply that the territories should be part of Jordan.
Some people envision these terms to imply Israel making a radical change and deciding that territory which otherwise would be a necessary part of a Palestinian state will be seized by Israel, who will then place Israeli settlements in the territory and displace Palestinians. They may be right depending on which territories would actually be annexed and what happens after they are.
Others believe that what is proposed is simply to allow residents of areas that will almost certainly remain under Israeli control going forward, regardless of any peace agreement, to access the Israeli civilian justice system instead of the military one, among other administrative changes, while not holding the well-being of tens of thousands of Israelis hostage to Palestinian decisions regarding peace agreements. They may also be right.
Still others promote annexation as a way to advance toward a time when Israel controls all of what was pledged to the Israelites by God in the Torah. Annexation of the territories by the Jewish state for them is God’s will. Annexation would indeed advance this goal as well.
Finally, some see this as naked politics that will have little to no real impact of life for Israelis or Palestinians on the ground, but which will aid the Prime Minister in appeasing members of his coalition, while potentially doing serious and completely unnecessary harm to Israel’s growing and important relations with the Arab world. Guess what? They’re probably also right.
Of course, there’s also the possibility [likelihood] that this is simply to try to take advantage of the last months of President Trump’s term with polls showing a possible landslide for his opponent, Joe Biden, one who would not support anything close to the policies that PM Netanyahu is advancing, hoping that the United States will support a unilateral Israeli decision now, that it has always opposed before and almost certainly will going forward.
The US might well even change its policy position after a new administration takes office. Further, a new administration may react harshly to actions taken now to exploit what may be the last months of a Trump administration. Any Democratic administration and other Republican administrations have and will likely continue to hold policy positions in opposition to unilateral Israeli actions in regard to items related to prospects for a future peace agreement.
Of all of these things, only the last one, that the timing for getting US support for any form of annexation is limited, is really a reason to try to move forward now and that must be taken against the number of significant reasons to reconsider. Additionally, there may be a way to address the issue of access to non-military courts without “annexation.”
One other not insignificant issue of concern, at least for those of us advocating for Israel in the United States, is that this policy decision will do unnecessary harm to bipartisan support for Israel at a time when there is great tension between critics and strong supporters for Israel among those interested in finding a reasonable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian and broader Israeli-Arab conflicts.
All this said, advancing annexation now, especially without US support in advance of any efforts, then seems to be a very bad idea, whose negatives far outweigh its positives.