Moves to Extend Israeli Sovereignty to Parts of West Bank Shouldn't Have Come as a Surprise. It Is, after all, the Cradle of Judaism

(Foreign Policy) Steven A. Cook - Over the last five decades, successive Israeli governments have invested in the development of cities and towns in the West Bank as well as the infrastructure necessary to link them to cities and towns in Israel. It defies logic to believe that Israel would ever give up on this long-term project. Yet that is exactly what folks inside the Beltway, including long-term Israel watchers, former officials, and opinion writers, have been doing for years. The Second Intifada should have laid bare the bankruptcy of the peace process. The dirty war that ensued was a searing experience for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel's national zeitgeist went from Prime Minister Shimon Peres' "New Middle East" to Netanyahu's "there is no partner [for peace]" and has never shifted back. The view that the U.S. can pressure Israel into giving up annexation also does not make sense against the backdrop of the West Bank's historical weight. It is, after all, the cradle of Judaism. It has also become the holy of holies in terms of Israeli security, all the more so since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza resulted in years of rocket fire on adjacent Israeli towns. The lesson Israelis learned from that experience is clear: hold on to territory, international condemnation be damned. Under these circumstances, regardless of whatever incentives or threats the U.S. can bring to bear, they are unlikely to work, given the way Israelis have defined the stakes - life or death. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

2020-05-12 00:00:00

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