Israel: Rise of the annexers

Larry Derfner writes: The top story in the Israeli media right now is Barack Obama’s blunt warning, transmitted through American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, to the Israeli political class. “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are,” the U.S. president has said repeatedly, warning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unyielding stance toward the Palestinians was leading the country toward suicidal isolation.

With an election less than a week away, it’s safe to say that Israelis disagree. The most ubiquitous campaign banners on billboards and highways are Netanyahu’s “A strong prime minister means a strong Israel” and rising star Naftali Bennett’s “No to a Palestinian state, yes to The Jewish Home,” which is the name of Bennett’s extreme right-wing party.

This Israeli campaign has thrown into stark relief the growing rift between how the world and how Israelis view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To the world, Israel faces a clear choice — either go on ruling the Palestinians or meet their demand for independence. Israelis used to agree that this was indeed the dilemma — in years past, it’s what elections were fought over. Not anymore, though.

In the Israeli election campaign that culminates on Jan. 22, the idea of uprooting West Bank settlements, ending the 45-year military occupation, and making way for a Palestinian state has been pushed off center stage. It’s now the preserve of marginal candidates in the multiparty electoral system, artist and intellectual types, and the octogenarian figurehead president, Shimon Peres. A new idea has risen to take its place: More than ever, popular voices are calling for Israel to annex the bulk of the West Bank, which is the primary territory of a would-be Palestinian state. [Continue reading…]

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