The 1st of July is the date of Israel’s 1967 annexation of the Jordan valley. What does it mean? If we ask president Donald Trump he will say: “The annexation is good for the Palestinians because there will soon be a Palestinian state.” If we ask Benjamin Netanyahu, he will say: “The annexation is great for Israel. It will add 33 percent of the area of the West Bank to the state of Israel.” If we ask the Arab leaders, some will keep silent and some will support Netanyahu. But if you ask Palestinians, we already rejected it, and here is why.
First, we know that the annexation is the first step of Trump’s peace plan. Second, Netanyahu’s annexation plan will take almost one-third of what we call 1967 areas. In 1948, Israel took 78 percent of all Palestinian ‘mandate’ lands; in 1967, it took what remained of those lands, so that one third will be from the 22 percent of what remained to the Palestinians.
Third, the Jordan valley is an agricultural area with very fertile land. It feeds Palestinians, and some of the food (vegetables and dates) is exported to Jordon, so annexation will bring both economic and nutritional damage. Fourth, annexation means that Israel can do what it wants by ignoring UN resolutions 242 and 338 (the resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank, Gaza and all the territories occupied in 1967). Fifth, Netanyahu will take those lands, and the people who live there will remain without rights. Israeli law will apply, enabling Israel to seize even more Palestinian land and making movement for Palestinians even harder.
Netanyahu promises that there will never be a Palestinian state and that Israel will annex more and more land. So for us Palestinians, the annexation is just a continuation of the Nakba (the displacement of Palestinians by the setting up of the Jewish state) that started in 1948, and proves that the catastrophe is a never-ending process even after 73 years. The annexation highlights how weak our leaders are and how divided we are. The only thing the Palestinian National Authority did was to refuse to cooperate with the Israeli military over security coordination.
The very real threat that Israel will invade the West Bank if there is resistance continues to hang over our heads. The Israeli media claims the PNA started to burn documents before they reached the Israelis, by which we understand that Israel will invade the West Bank if there is resistance.
In Gaza, the Hamas leadership is waiting for Qatari charity money to stave off hunger for two million Palestinians. What will we do given that Covid-19 dominates everything, and that Trump and Netanyahu seem able to do anything? This is especially so given that many Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are allies of Israel and therefore will not lift a finger to help the Palestinians.
But sometimes out of the darkness comes light. That light is the anti-racist upsurge in the of George Floyd. The world can see that we are all George Floyd, that we do have power. On 6th June, Israeli Border Police carried out the brutal killing of Palestinian Eyad Hallaq in East Jerusalem, a young man on the autistic spectrum.
The anger at this fed into a thousands of people attending a protest against annexation that would normally have drawn only hundreds. This was a major success for the Israeli left. The organisers and protesters linked the anti-annexation protest.
The organisers and protestors did their best to align the anti-annexation protest with the rising tide of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in American cities and around the world. They waved ‘Palestinian Lives Matter’ placards, demanded ‘Justice for Eyad’ and confronted police with slogans such as ‘Who are you really guarding?’ The power of the people and international solidarity with the Palestinians have the potential to stop the annexation, and to achieve justice for Palestine and for all.