Jeff Halper

With the signing of an agreement with Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally got a government that gives him the two things he most coveted: immunity from prosecution in his three corruption cases, and a mandate to annex large swathes of the West Bank, Israel’s “settlement blocs,” finally expanding Israel’s borders from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, foreclosing forever any Palestinian state, and imposing an apartheid regime of Jews over Palestinians — with the approval of the US and the complicity of the international community, from China and India to the Arab states. Annexation could take place as soon as July.

The maps below contrast the two-state solution, in which a Palestinian state would arise on only 22% of historic Palestine, to the Netanyahu/Trump plan, the Deal of the Century where they would be “given” a non-viable, non-sovereign, truncated bantustan on around 15% of their country. 

And let’s be clear: Palestinians living in the annexed territory will not be given Israeli citizenship. At best they will have the status of “permanent residents,” like the Palestinians of annexed East Jerusalem. That makes their situation even worse. Today Palestinians can move between the OPT and Jordan and the wider world (subject, of course, to arbitrary “security” measures like forbidding them to travel or, conversely, deporting them). As permanent residents, Israel can simply revoke their residency if they travel, go abroad to study, etc., by claiming they have “moved the center of their lives from where they had lived,” and therefore lose their residency and their right to return. That has happened to some 14,000 East Jerusalemites in recent years. 

If there is a silver lining to all this, it is that it took a Trump to finally put to bed (forgive the metaphor) what we have all really known for the past 20 years: that the two-state solution is dead. Our only hope to salvage something just and worthwhile from this travesty is to “go with the flow.” We have to say to Israel: OK, YOU, Israel, created a single state from the River to the Sea, deliberately, with your eyes open. We accept that, but we cannot accept apartheid. Our task is crystal-clear: to transform an apartheid regime into a democratic state of equal rights for all its citizens. 

We need much more Palestinian leadership in this, which is why the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) is such a welcome development. Let’s leverage the coming annexation from colonization, occupation and apartheid into an inclusive democracy for all the inhabitants of the country (including the Palestinian refugees, who should finally come home). Genuinely the only democracy in the Middle East, but – finally — a progressive force in our region.