My colleague, Nave Dromi, disagrees with my negative view of Israel’s annexing some parts of the West Bank.

My six-part argument, as spelled out here, boils down to dismissing annexation as too-expensive symbolism. It brings no rewards but creates problems everywhere one looks. Therefore, I conclude, annexation obstructs her and my goal of an Israel Victory and Palestinian defeat.

Nave’s six-part argument, as presented here, holds that annexation advances that same goal: It puts territorial pressure on Palestinians. It guarantees security to all. It gives Israel the initiative. It seizes the moment. It has President Donald Trump’s reliable backing. It enjoys wide support within Israel.

I accept most of these points, other than two: those about guaranteeing security (nothing on the ground changes) and about Trump (his volatile views cannot be predicted). But, for the sake of argument, I’ll even grant the one about Trump.

Even so, annexation’s benefits remain symbolic while the potential impact is entirely negative. The West Bank and its Jewish towns become yet more contentious. Palestinians may explode. International outrage—from the U.S. Democratic Party to Israeli leftists to Arab governments—costs Israel. Israel gains additional Muslim citizens who reject its very existence.

In all, it boosts the Palestinians’ cause against Israel … in return for roughly nothing.

Nave compares this moment to Israeli founding father and first prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s leading the drive to declare Israel’s independence in 1948. Not so: Declaring independence was not a hollow legalistic gesture like this, but an epochal event—one that, by the way, had the endorsement by the United Nations, and the backing of the Soviet and U.S. governments. The comparison does not hold.

But turn it around: Ben-Gurion was a seasoned and canny political operator who, despite grave reservations, took practical steps such as accepting the U.N. partition plan of 1947. What if he were now Israel’s prime minister? He would reject paying a probably massive price for self-indulgent symbolism. He would say no to annexing any part of the West Bank.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.‎

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.