It is undoubtable that Israel's decision to annex will fundamentally alter Israel, Palestine, and the entire region. So, to learn more about the legality and legal implications of such an important proposition, I joined a webinar with Israel's top law expert on such a topic, Michael Sfard. He represents Palestinian communities and activists, and serving in the IDF, refused to serve in a divided city (Hebron) and was detained because of such. As a side note, we NEED more people like him - people that look out for the human rights of all and stand up for what is right instead of falling into the slippery slope of hatred. I want to share with you what he said, so his work can be better spread into the teen community.
Sfard began by saying that one must realize international law goes hand in hand with international relations, and that change in status of lawfulness can be a reactor for negative relations. In the past few years, Israel's position on the West Bank has shifted. In the past 53 years, since 1967, Israeli governments have acknowledged the West Bank as a disputed territory. Each and every one of those governments have mentioned the importance of refraining from violence to solve the multiple claims to the same land. Earlier this decade, many in the Israeli government began discussing annexation - however, it was seen as impossible to pursue at the time with Obama in the White House. When Trump was sworn in in 2017, as well as the most right-wing Israeli government ever in 2019, annexation began to be pursued.
Israel is no longer following the policy of negotiations, and it no longer sees its own occupation in the West Bank as temporary. THROUGH THIS ACTION, ISRAEL NO LONGER VALUES PEACE THROUGH DIPLOMACY, and it will be interpreted as such by Palestine and Arab allies. By doing so, Israel ignores two major principles - a state cannot annex territory taken by force (part of UN charter), and the right of people to self-determination. Annexation is illegal under international law, as well, in the Geneva Convention. Also, the peace accords with Jordan and Egypt, in the first sentenced, promised to realize UN Resolution 242, which states Israel must leave or reach an agreement. Instead, they seem to be moving in the opposite direction with a disregard for the progress made in past decades. He compared the situation to Apartheid, in that there are two groups living together but one has all civil rights and the other is restricted. With this decision, Israel says that the view of inferiority is perpetual. Apartheid, as a concept, is considered an international crime against humanity, which could have major legal implications for Israel. This cannot be ignored.
Citizenship status of Palestinians being annexed is to be seen. The might be following a previous model with permanent residence with the option to citizenship, but not automatic citizenship. Also, private land in annexed territory, especially those with lots of land, could be nationalized. There will be forcible transfer from some areas - for example, Israel doesn't recognize the right of Palestinians to live in the Jordan Valley. When subject to Israeli law, this will lead to citizens being forced to leave their homes. There will be settlement activity at an even higher rate, Israel-ifying parts of or the entire territory and imposing Israel into a group of people that already hate Israel...bound for violence.
Annexation has occurred throughout the world in various places, and it seems Israel may be using such annexation to justify their actions. The annexation of Crimea, a territory first owned by the Ukraine, did result in some sanctions, but those had very little effect on Russia's decisions. He makes a point that those with power can evade justice (referring to Netanyahu for avoiding his corruption trial). Sfard says that the world should expect more from Israel, yet that Israel has been a constant violator of international law without many consequences. Lastly, and a point I feel is very important, is that most Israelis simply don't care and don't know what's at stake by going through with this. They see it as an "act of masculinity, of power", not as a rights abuse. Sfard's hope is that increased knowledge outside Israel in the international community (at a time that very little Israeli parties are opposed) will put moral and legal pressure on Israel to reverse the action. Please help the effort to convince Israel not to destroy any hope of a peaceful future. Go to https://act.jstreet.org/sign/american-jews-oppose-annexation/. Thank you.