Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Sovereignty, or the application of civil law to Judea and Samaria, has been hereby suspended, in favor of a peace accord with the UAE. How long that suspension will last is anyone’s guess. Some think it’s a done deal—that the subject of sovereignty is permanently off the table—while others think Bibi will make good his electoral promise of sovereignty, doing the right thing at the right time, in good time. But was sovereignty ever really on the table in the first place?

 “Peace for peace,” said Netanyahu in his remarks to the nation about the accord, emphasizing that this would not be a cold peace, but a peace in which Israel and the UAE would be equals and friends. But the prime minister’s words also suggested that Israel traded not sovereignty for peace, but peace for peace: that Israel got something so huge in the exchange that it was worth it—worth giving up Israel’s sovereignty. But are sovereignty and peace commodities that might be traded, one for the other, even Steven? Is peace somehow bigger and more important than sovereignty? More worthwhile?

A reasonable person might ask: is "peace for peace" only more Netanyahu oratorical sleight of hand? For how is peace made, if not by sovereign entities as equals? And if Israel is robbed of the right to self-determination in parts of its lawful, indigenous territory, one might argue that it has no power to make an accord. That the right to make accords belongs solely to sovereign countries.

Giving up sovereignty is unfortunate in many ways, not least for creating a gap between the UAE and Israel, removing any semblance of parity between the two. Suspending sovereignty at the behest of the U.S. turns Israel into a vassal state, tied to Uncle Sam’s apron strings. It means that America decides the fate of the Jews and the land God gave them. Or rather, in agreeing to suspend sovereignty, Israel has ceded its rights, making America sovereign over the Holy Land.

This is what Netanyahu did in agreeing to suspend sovereignty. But who knows, perhaps sovereignty was never really on the table at all. Perhaps the suggested parameters of sovereignty were only meant to suggest the borders of a “Palestinian” state.

I put the question to Nadia Matar, co-chairman of Women in Green with Yehudit Katsover. The two have lately gone on to create the Sovereignty Movement (Ribonut), which serves as a forum and a campaign for the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Matar’s response to my question regarding partial sovereignty was succinct: “Bibi is on his way to create a PA state. He has to go.”

The same question put to Professor Efraim Inbar, however, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, yielded a surprising response, one that is brimming with optimism for the future, “The Americans got cold feet and Bibi got an agreement with UAE. Not so bad. Sovereignty remains for better days. History does not end in 2020.”

Inbar sees Bibi and Israel as the big winners here. A different picture emerges, however, in a recent interview of Finance Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) on Kan Bet, where Katz said that sovereignty had been frozen before the agreement with the United Arab Emirates. The MK was frank in stating that there actually is no connection between the peace accord with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the decision to suspend sovereignty. That it was simply “more convenient” for the Arab nations to present the accords as if they had brought about the suspension of sovereignty.

In this light, freezing sovereignty is akin to Israel freezing construction in Judea and Samaria, or what hostile elements call “settlement expansion.” It was canny of the UAE to squeeze this concession from the Jews. In theory, if not in application, the suspension of sovereignty makes the UAE a hero to the Arab people for staying Israel's hands in applying its land rights in the Holy Land, land that is coveted by the Arab people.

President Trump announces the agreement on August 13, 2020

Jared Kushner, however, asserts that the entire question of sovereignty is moot, “That land is land that right now Israel quite frankly controls. Israelis that live there aren’t going anywhere. There shouldn’t be any urgency to applying Israeli law. We believe they will respect their agreement.”

With this statement, Kushner betrays his lack of understanding of a very basic issue: that the territories have been under martial law since 1967, and living under martial law, is no way to live. Sovereignty means bringing civility to Judea and Samaria. For the wild, wild “West Bank” is a lawless place, where anything might happen when tensions flare, and the only thing to stop it is soldiers.

This is not a proper or humane state of affairs for Jews or Arabs. Asked if the application of civil law to the territories stood to benefit the Palestinians, Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli Arab journalist and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, responded, “I believe they would prefer any law to the existing set of laws, which includes Israeli military law, Jordanian law and Palestinian law. These laws have complicated the lives of Palestinians and created much confusion for many.”

The Point of the Deal: A Palestinian State

The Trump peace plan doesn’t factor in that confusion. It’s not the point or the focus of the deal. The purpose of the Deal of the Century, is to create a Palestinian state on 70 percent of Judea and Samaria through the application of Israeli sovereignty to just 30 percent of that land, effectively giving up another huge chunk of Jewish land to the Arabs for good, land that now legally belongs to Israel under international law. The normalization agreement with the UAE, however, puts a stopper into that idea, stipulating that Israel suspend its plan to extend Israeli law to these areas.

Kushner was frank about all this in his public remarks on the accord, in which he stated that Prime Minister Netanyahu had agreed to a map dividing Judea and Samaria into a Palestinian state with a part that would belong to Israel, calling it “the first map ever agreed publicly to by one of the parties.”

This, it appears, was the intent of partial sovereignty from the beginning. In giving up sovereignty over most of Judea and Samaria, Israel gives up more land to the Arabs for a state. Hence Trump’s peace plan turns the application of civilian law into another Israeli land giveaway, yet more land for peace. The plan actually turns sovereignty into something that is anathema to the world: annexation, by making Israel the thief in asserting its rights to a mere 30 percent of Jewish land, when in fact it is Israel, giving away yet more of its God-given land, more lifeblood, to the Arabs.

The Deal of the Century gives the Arabs license to encroach on yet more Jewish land, in the very same sort of creeping annexation of which Israel stands accused. Make no mistake: this is an Arab land grab going all the way back to the British Mandate for Palestine, when responding to Arab entreaties, Britain reneged on its promise to the Jews, and created Transjordan on 78 percent of the Mandate. It is the same creeping Arab annexation of Jewish land that was Oslo, the same creeping Arab annexation of Jewish land that resulted from the expulsion of the Jews from Gaza. And yet it is Israel that is the enabler of this state of affairs, in which the Arabs get more Jewish land over time, as the Jews are squeezed into borders that shrink over time, inching ever closer to the sea. 

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