Mohammad S. Alzoubi is a Master of International Policy and Diplomacy candidate at Staffordshire University (UK) and a Researcher on Middle Eastern Affairs.
As talks on annexation have become deafening inside Israel, calls vary for different annexation plans starting from the Jordan Valley proposal, to Area C, the occupation of the entire West Bank, and the Trump annex.
While the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to implement the full annexation plan, the Israeli Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, said he would not support the annexation of West Bank parts containing “a large Palestinian population.”
“I am sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not jeopardize the peace treaty with Jordan and the strategic relations of the State of Israel with the US with an irresponsible move,” Gantz added. The governmental gap between the two rivals came amid expectations of another round of elections in Israel.
Netanyahu’s Annexation Plan and Dispute with Jordan
Jordan and Israel have a long way line of diplomacy that resulted in the first negotiated peace treaty, where the Washington Declaration in 1994 stated, “Israel and Jordan ended the official state of enmity and would start negotiations to achieve an end to bloodshed and sorrow and just and lasting peace.”
Netanyahu plans to annex the Jordan Valley, with all Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, but he stated that this move would not be achieved before taking the Trump Administrations’ green light and applying “Trump Peace Plan.” The annexation will include about 11,000 Israeli settlers in addition to 65,000 Palestinians live in the area. That, for sure, will highlight two main points: 1) Jordan-Israeli relations, and 2) the capacity and ability of the Israeli economy.
The planned annexation will dismantle the mutual peace and understating treaties that have been achieved through history painstakingly. A matter that will bring Israel –from the Israeli point of view– to square one with Jordan and the region, especially with the GCC countries, let alone the existence of other files remain open, such as the Iranian presence in Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah and other militant groups that seek for enlarging security gaps and pose a significant danger on the Israeli national security.
From an Israeli perspective, the annexation will put an end to the Palestinian hopes of establishing a state there, which will intentionally create unrest with Jordan eventually, perhaps because of the expected influx of more refugees and an increase in their numbers, to establish “alternative state” on the ruins of a previous monarchy, or under a constitutional monarchy.
Personal Endeavors amid Severe Crisis
Netanyahu has his calculations while corruption charges ignited against him, and the annexation plan represents an excellent opportunity for distraction.
Under the challenging global economic situation that heads toward the great state of recession, government support packages are shrinking, and unemployment benefits are exhausted as public awareness in Israel grows of the depth of the crisis. These factors will mostly shake the main pillars of Israeli society. However, unemployment rates reach 25%, amid the unprecedented economic crisis of COVID-19 that stroke Israel among other states.
Perhaps that is why Netanyahu sought to include Blue and White (political alliance) in the National Unity Coalition, where he aimed to share any future political blame and alleviate public pressure on his government.
Official Split over National Security Concerns
Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz opposed any unilateral annexation, linking his agreement with King of Jordan’s acquiescence and insisted that any occupation occur only as an integral part of “Trump’s Plan of Peace.”
Nowadays, Israel faces national security challenges in the event of massive changes in the region, where annexation consequences may increase international isolation, thus, “international legitimacy” can be taken from the hands of Israel, and this is a matter of concern that has been circulated in corridors of the Israeli lobbies in the United States.
Moreover, experts in Israel and the United States are concerned about the economic and strategic cost of establishing a quasi-state in the Jordan Valley, in light of economic weakness, widespread dissatisfaction in the United States, and Israel and the increasing regional security estimations.
Netanyahu and Gantz appear splitting on the annexation issue. The Israeli Prime Minister is attempting to survive to form his fate according to personal considerations, even if threat possibilities are raising on the structure of the state. While the Defense Minister seems thinking strategically and made his calculations according to national security considerations.
For Jordan, the matter does not exceed its papers while the American Jewish community and the official elite in the US congress share fears and doubts about Netanyahu’s planned annexation. The kingdom has succeeded in managing the COVID-19 crisis, attracted the world’s attention, and trying to enter the stage of economic recovery amid a high-level campaign to fight corruption to the standardization of the national front and public opinion.