David Palumbo-Liu reports on the statements of Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of Education, who has called for “the permanent annexation of the West Bank, and also banned a book from being taught in Israeli schools.” Israeli politicians have long dreamed of annexing the Palestinian West Bank, which has been subject to a brutal military occupation since the 1967 War. They have also engineered a exceedingly narrow nationalist and exclusivist discourse that intolerant of cultural diversity or narratives that challenge the Jewish character of Israel.
The ongoing construction of settlements, the so-called “separation wall,” and the constant displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, all in violation of international law, have been three of the main strategies for Israeli expansionism. Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem violates not only international law, it also literary stonewalls negotiations and undermines all chances for a peace settlement, which is premised on the two-state solution according to the pre-1967 War borders.
The entire international community, including Israel’s main allies in Europe and North America hold the position that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied territories. For this reason, unlike Bennett, most Israeli politicians do not generally state openly their ambition to annex the Palestinian lands. Bennett’s assertion is not surprising, nor is decision to ban Dorit Rabinyan’s Gader Haya, a book that tells the story of a Jew and an Arab falling in love. Rather Bennett’s positions reveal the true character of Israel, which has long been evident to all who observe Israel’s actions in the West Bank and listen carefully to what Israeli politicians say.