17 June 2020 — American Herald Tribune
Whatever percentage of the West Bank Israel begins to annex in July, it will eventually annex the rest. Will it then turn to the east bank of the Jordan river?
Since the 19th century, the Zionist project was based on the seizure of all Palestine, including territory east of the Jordan. The map of ‘Israel’ presented to the Paris peace conference in 1919 extended northwards into what is now Lebanon and included the city of Sidon; in the northeast, all the Golan Heights and Syria almost as far as Damascus; in the southeast the entire Jordan River valley, with the territory it desired extending almost to the town limits of Amman.
Water was integral to zionist calculations from the beginning. In the imperial carve-up between Britain and France, however, the headwaters of the Jordan on Mt Hermon, fed by the Hasbani and Baniyas rivers, stayed within the French mandate for Syria (later divided into Lebanon and Syria). The water flows into the Sea of Galilee, from where it feeds the Jordan River before emptying into the Dead Sea.
In the 1950s and 60s the zionists made repeated attempts to divert the waters of the Golan, apart from bombing Syrian attempts to make better use of the water by building pumping stations. In its 1967 attack on Egypt and Syria, Israel seized two-thirds of the Golan, ensuring the flow of its waters south into Lake Galilee. About 100, 000 Syrians fled or were expelled, along with several thousand Palestinians. About 100 of their villages were demolished and their land given to the 22,000 settlers who now live on the heights. An entire city, Quneitra, was also reduced to rubble by Israeli army sappers.
Currently, Israel takes about 60 percent of its fresh water needs from Lake Galilee and the West Bank. From the Galilee the water is pumped south to feed the Naqab, while 80 percent of the West Bank’s aquifers is drained so Israeli needs can be met and the settlers (about 450,000 excluding occupied East Jerusalem) can water their lawns and fill their swimming pools. By comparison, the Palestinians (2.2 million are allowed scarcely enough for domestic use, they have to endure frequent cuts and they have been prevented from drilling new wells since 1967 despite population growth.
With the Dead Sea dying and the Sea of Galilee drying up, falling to its lowest level for a century in 2018, Israel is increasingly dependent on desalinated water. In 2018, in an attempt to revive the Sea of Galilee, the government approved a plan for it to be refilled with desalinated water. The drought of 2018 forced a reduction in the water pumped from the Sea of Galilee from an annual 400 million cubic meters to 30-40 million. With a growing population and a diminishing supply of fresh water, control of both banks of the Jordan river is bound to be a critical element in zionist forward planning once the latest stage of expansion – the annexation of the West Bank – has been completed.
A false dichotomy
The mainstream Zionists, led by Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion, attached themselves to British imperial designs like a limpet, promising to be faithful to British interests in the Middle East. They were rewarded with key positions in the civilian administration (control of ‘immigration’ and the attorney-generalship) as well as military and police protection for their purchase and settlement of land, and the ejection of the Palestinian farmers which followed.
In the history of the Zionist movement a false dichotomy has been created between the mainstream ‘practicals’ and Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist stream of ‘politicals.’ Jabotinsky – “your fascist” as Mussolini described him to a zionist delegation – was indifferent to the rights, needs and aspirations of the Palestinians but open about his intentions. The Palestine he intended to take in its entirety extended not just from the sea to the Jordan river but to the other side of the river, originally placed within the mandate but removed by Britain in 1922 and converted into the puppet state of Transjordan.
Jabotinsky knew ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine would resist the seizure of their land, and thus intended to build an ‘iron wall’ of military force to overcome them. Once defeated, having been forced to see reason, as Jabotinsky put it, peace could be established between the two peoples.
The ‘practicals’ projected an entirely different image. They reviled Jabotinsky’s fascistic Revisionists. They were socialists, so they declared, irrespective of the fact that their kibbutzes, their moshavs, their labor unions and their peak union body, the Histadrut, were for Jews only. They intended no harm to ‘the Arabs’. All they wanted was to work the land to the benefit of everyone and live in peace with their neighbors. They were happy to share irrespective of another fact, that Palestine was not theirs to share in the first place. When partition was first suggested in 1937 they accepted it and they accepted it again in 1947. It was ‘Arab’ obstructionism that was blocking the road to peace.
The diaries of their senior figures told the real story behind the dissimulation. Only there did they reveal their true intentions, to take the land and get rid of the people. The ‘practicals’ knew as well as the Revisionists that an ‘iron wall’ would have to be built against ‘the Arabs.’ An ‘Eretz Israel’ which included the other side of the Jordan was their map as well. The differences between themselves and the Revisionists were no more than tribal infighting over power. Tactics differed but the strategic end objective – the seizure of all of Palestine as delineated on the 1919 map – was the same.
Having served its purpose, the UN partition plan was dumped almost immediately. The zionist leadership never had any intention of abiding by UN resolutions or international law. It could do neither, if Israel was to be established as a Jewish state. As Ben-Gurion made clear, war would give the zionists what they wanted, all of Palestine, not just the 54 percent allocated in the partition plan and but for international intervention in 1948-9, they might well have succeeded. Partition was accepted by the zionists only because at that stage they could go no further.
Having seized 78 percent of Palestine, Israel was admitted to UN membership only on the condition that it comply with General Assembly resolution 194 of 1948, giving expelled Palestinians the right of repatriation or compensation.
As it has never complied with this resolution and never had any intention of doing so, there is a clear legal reason to regard Israel’s membership of the world body as null and void. Another distinctive characteristic of Israel’s UN membership is that it remains a state without declared borders. This is not just because of the state of war that still exists between itself and two adjoining Arab states (Lebanon and Syria) but because Israel does not want to declare its borders. This seemingly anomalous situation is deliberate, allowing Israel to continue its expansionist drive towards the borders of the ‘national home’ as inked on the map in 1919.
Annexation of the West Bank takes it a further step in this direction. Netanyahu is a Revisionist. His Arab-hating father was for some time Jabotinsky’s secretary. Since the election of Menachem Begin in 1977, Revisionists have been in government for more than 40 years, with even more extreme extremists (Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked) now taking center stage. In the Zionist context they almost make Netanyahu seem a moderate.
No one should doubt that beyond his lies and deceit, Netanyahu remains faithful to his Revisionist roots. In his 1993 book A Place Among the Nations: Israel and the World Netanyahu reaffirmed the “right” of the Jewish “people” to the entire ‘land of Israel.’
There should be no confusion about this. The ‘land of Israel’ is not (not yet) synonymous with the state of Israel.
The land is there only for Jews, not to be shared with anyone else, a principle pursued since the beginning of Zionist colonization and a commitment which Netanyahu took a step further with the nation-state law of 2018 and has now taken another step further with his declaration that the Palestinians of the annexed West Bank will not be citizens but “subjects”, a term usually applied to the subjects of a king or emperor. Again, this is consistent with the long-term view held along the political spectrum that Israel is the state of the Jewish ‘people’, and not of its citizens.
Last September Netanyahu pledged to annex the West Bank if re-elected. He now rules Israel under a power-sharing arrangement with Benny Gantz, army chief of staff during the 2014 onslaught on Gaza that killed 2200 people, including 1492 civilians (551 of them children). The Israeli military also shelled UNRWA shelters, killing civilians there as well as in the streets and their apartments. Annexation of the West Bank was part of the unity deal between these two unindicted war criminals.
How much will be annexed in the first stage won’t be known until Netanyahu issues the first decree but it will definitely include a 100-km long stretch of the Jordan River valley between the Hussein and Karameh (formerly Allenby) bridges. Violence will follow as surely as night follows day, the zionists using resistance, as they always do, as a pretext to take more land and further tighten their grip.
There may well be a third intifada on the West Bank and it would take only a few shots across the river for Israel to have the ‘security’ pretext (the protection of its 11,000 illegal settlers in the Jordan valley) for crossing the water and establishing itself on the east bank. An immediate acquisition would be King Abdullah (formerly the East Ghor) canal on the east bank, from which is pumped 90 million cubic meters of fresh water a year to the residents of Amman.
On the basis of all past zionist practice, the steady expansion into and settlement of Jordanian territory would soon follow, over the futile objections of the ‘international community.’ This is hardly far-fetched. Zionism is an opportunistic ideology and where opportunities have not arisen fortuitously to seize more of Palestine over the past seven decades, Israel has created them.
Those beating their breasts because annexation will mean an end to the ‘peace process’ and the two-state solution are delusional. The Zionists never intended there to be a two-state solution in Palestine and the ‘peace process’ died long ago, if it was ever intended to live. In reality, it was no more than a cost-effective war process fought behind closed doors at Camp David and giving Israel time to consolidate its hold on the West Bank.
Once the annexation of the West Bank begins the Palestinian Authority will collapse. Mahmud Abbas has already severed links with Israel and the US, not that this counts for anything at this stage. King Abdullah has already warned of the “massive crisis” that will follow once the West Bank is annexed but there is little he can do to stop it. The king can respond by sending the Israeli ambassador home and he can suspend the 1994 ‘peace’ treaty in whole or part but he cannot stop annexation any more than King Canute could stop the incoming tide.
The ‘international community’ is already reacting negatively but is likely to do little in practice. The US is giving Israel a free hand and the lobby will ensure King Abdullah stays in line. He is dependent on the US, where pressure is already being exerted through Congress for the extradition of Ahlam al Tamimi, implicated in the bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria in 2001, and released in 2011 as part of a Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange. As US nationals died in the bombing, Al Tamimi is wanted for prosecution in the US. Refusal or delay by Jordan in handing her over would completely play into Israel’s hands. It is the “child killer” – Israel of course never kills children – that would capture the US media headlines and not the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.
Israel’s ‘peace treaty’ with Jordan is no more than a tactical tool, just as the ‘peace process’ was, to be tossed aside when it has outlived its usefulness. The Israel army is already stationed on the west bank of the Jordan. No one should expect it to stay there once the annexation of the West Bank has been completed. The east bank of the Jordan River is as much a part of the 1919 map as the Golan Heights or southern Lebanon, where only the resistance of Hizbullah has held the zionists at bay. Almost certainly Israel is going to cross the Jordan river one day.
*(Top image: Three members of the Beit Ommar National Committee against the Wall and Settlements were injured on May 7, 2011, in a demonstration near the Israeli Karmei Tsur settlement. Yousef Abu Marya, age 36, had his wrist broken in two places by Israeli soldiers, while Ahmed Abu Hashem, age 42, and Mousa Abu Marya, 33, sustained leg injuries. Credit: Palestine Solidarity Project/ Flickr)
Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East. His publications include “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.) His latest book is “The Last Ottoman Wars. The Human Cost 1877-1923” (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2019).