TEL AVIV – Evacuating Jewish settlements in the West Bank would pose an “immediate existential threat” to Israel, according to a memo sent by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Likud Knesset members on Sunday.
“There can be no realistic Israeli-Palestinian peace accord in which the Judea and Samaria Jewish communities are evacuated. These are established communities in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis live,” The Times of Israel, which obtained a copy of the memo, cites it as saying.
“Relinquishing these territories would not only constitute a historic injustice; such a move would create an immediate existential threat to the Jewish state since Judea and Samaria border central Israeli cities,” it says, referencing the biblical term for the West Bank.
Jewish West Bank settlements “constitute an integral part of the Jewish homeland and Jewish identity,” the memo reads, adding:
The territories are steeped in Jewish history, dotted with Jewish archaeological sites and constitute an integral part of the Jewish homeland and Jewish identity. Jews lived in these territories for centuries.
The Torah unfolds in the mountainous territories in which our forefathers and foremothers trekked, legendary Jewish kings ruled and biblical figures prophesied. The word ‘Jew’ itself originates with the Israelite kingdom of Judah, now referred to as Judea.
The memo noted the annexation plans would replace Israeli military rule over those areas with “Israeli law and civil administration in already existing Israeli communities in the territories so that those living there can be treated equally under the law like all Israelis.”
“Applying Israeli law will provide normalcy and stability to the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Judea and Samaria. The argument against applying Israeli law implies that Jews would need to be treated as unequal or even uprooted from Judea and Samaria, thus ethnically cleansing the territories of Jews.”
Applying Israeli sovereignty to those areas would lead “to a realistic regional peace based upon facts on the ground,” the memo states.
The memo also praises the Trump administration’s peace plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, noting its “novel approach” in formulating a proposal that “is built on real-world facts instead of well-intentioned yet illusory concepts that may seem great in the abstract but have repeatedly failed to translate into progress.”
In a Friday op-ed for the Washington Post, however, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer expressly supported the notion of a Palestinian state, which Trump’s plan calls for. Dermor wrote:
The extension of Israeli sovereignty to certain territories in Judea and Samaria will not, as many critics suggest, destroy the two-state solution. But it will shatter the two-state illusion. And in doing so, it will open the door to a realistic two-state solution and get the peace process out of the cul-de-sac it has been stuck in for two decades.
According to the memo, the word “annexation” is a misnomer since it “connotes the forcible acquisition of one state’s territory by another state. Israel is doing no such thing,” the document asserts. “Israel has valid legal claims to the territories while no other state claims the area.”
According to the memo, the extension of Israel law would not change anything about the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction “in a single Palestinian neighborhood.”
“The Palestinian Authority will continue to maintain the same status in every Palestinian community and can initiate negotiations at any time based on the parameters established in the Trump plan,” it reads.