Most Israelis think their government’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank will spark a Palestinian uprising but around half favour going ahead anyway, a poll showed Wednesday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to take steps towards annexation as soon as July 1, despite widespread international condemnation.
The move forms part of a broader peace plan published by the United States, although Washington has not publicly backed Netanyahu’s timetable.
Fifty percent of Israelis support annexation, half of them only with US support, according to a new poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute.
Nearly 31 percent oppose annexation, while the remainder were undecided.
Despite the majority voicing support for Netanyahu’s proposal, implementing his plan would very likely lead to an uprising, according to 58 percent of Israelis surveyed.
The most recent Palestinian uprising, known as the Second Intifada, erupted in the early 2000s and included waves of freedom fighters clashing with the Israeli Defence Forces.
On Monday, Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered the army to speed up “military preparedness ahead of political steps on the agenda in the Palestinian arena”.
The latest poll, which surveyed 771 adults in late May, followed warnings by neighbour Jordan and other countries against annexation.
The United Nations on Sunday said the move would breach international law and “most likely trigger conflict and instability” in the Palestinian territories.
Israel’s West Bank annexation: Palestinians rally against it
Annexation and the overall US peace deal have been firmly rejected by Palestinian officials, who cut diplomatic ties with Washington in 2017 after President Donald Trump recognised the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters rallied against annexation in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, carrying Palestinian flags.
“It’s the start of an active movement on the ground to defy the decision by Israel to annex, a decision which undermines the Palestinian national project,” said protester Khaled Mansour.
For Jihad Ramadan, the Nablus secretary of Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Israel aims to “kill the Palestinian dream” with its annexation plans.
“But it’s an illusion to think that they can prevent the creation of a Palestinian state,” he said.
Abbas has on numerous occasions threatened to cut all security ties with Israel if annexation goes ahead, while trying to rally the international community to the Palestinian cause.
According to analysts, ending such cooperation could threaten relative calm in the West Bank, home to 2.7 million Palestinians and 450,000 Israelis.
The latter live in Israeli settlements which are viewed as illegal under international law, but were recognised by the United States in November.
Experts say the Israeli government has a narrow window of opportunity to move ahead with annexation, before US presidential elections in November that could see its ally Trump voted out of office.
Palestine-Israel tensions heightened after Israel reveals annexation plans
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in the coming months, vowing to move ahead with the explosive plan despite a growing chorus of condemnations by key allies.
The parliamentary motion demanding sanctions against Israel if its annexes the West Bank now has the support of 69 MPs. I'm amazed that a whole 10.6% of British MPs can support such a concept. Next, they'll be opposing illegal foreign wars. https://t.co/pQ2gMqLnu1 pic.twitter.com/dO5noXJ511
— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) May 30, 2020
The Palestinians, with wide international backing, seek the entire West Bank as the heartland of a future independent state. Annexing large chunks of this territory would all but destroy the faint remaining hopes of a two-state solution. The proposed move to annex the West Bank has had international support, most notably from the EU.
Most recently, leading British Jews also condemned the planned Annexation, urging the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom to step back from the proposal.
In an apparent reference to the friendly administration of President Donald Trump, Netanyahu said Israel had a “historic opportunity” to redraw the Mideast map that could not be missed. Israeli media quoted him as saying he would act in July.
“This is an opportunity that we will not let pass,” he told members of his conservative Likud party. He added that the “historic opportunity” to annex the West Bank had never before occurred since Israel’s founding in 1948.
Palestine cuts all ties with US and Israel
The Palestinians have suspended contacts with the CIA after announcing an end to security coordination with Israel and the United States in protest at Israeli proposals to annex territory in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian official said on Thursday.
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Washington had been told of the move after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said earlier that his administration was no longer committed to agreements with Israel and the United States, including on security coordination.
On cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, Erekat told reporters in a video call: “It stopped as of the end of the (Palestinian) president’s speech.”
Intelligence cooperation with the CIA continued even after the Palestinians began boycotting US peace efforts led by President Donald Trump in 2017, with the sides working together on heading off violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is based.
Abbas had threatened before to end security ties, without following through. Israeli officials say he needs Israel’s support in the face of domestic challenges from the Palestinian group Hamas.
But Erekat said: “Things change and we have decided it is time now to change.”
“Security cooperation with the United States is no more. Security coordination with Israel is no more,” said Erekat. “We are going to maintain public order and the rule of law, alone.”
What does the West Bank annexation by Israel entail?
Netanyahu has pledged to put Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank under Israeli sovereignty. He has set July 1 as a starting date for cabinet discussions on the issue, which has also raised alarm within the European Union.
The plan is also controversial for its inclusion of the Jordan Valley in the proposed territory to be annexed, which may lead Israel into direct conflict with Jordan.
It will see Israel gaining a large amount of territory, at the expense of Palestine and neighbouring Jordan.
Lone Palestinian freedom fighters with no clear links to groups have carried out a series of attacks in recent years to lodge their protests on the de-facto control of West Bank by Israel. The PA is not allowed to operate in east Jerusalem or the areas in the West Bank where most attacks have occurred.
Rights groups have accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force in some cases, either by killing individuals who could have been arrested or using lethal force when their lives were not in danger.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk