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Is Israel Proscribed to Annex Judea and Samaria (West Bank)?

It has been suggested that the next Prime Minister of Israel will be proscribed from annexing parts of Judea and Samaria – for the next three years – due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal commitment to President Trump to refrain from annexation.  This ostensible commitment was never ratified by Israel’s Legislature.

Does a personal commitment by an Israeli prime minister to a US president tie the hands of succeeding Israeli prime ministers?

Not according to the tradition of democratic societies, which aims to avoid Executive tyranny, limiting the power of presidents and prime ministers through a system of checks and balance.

For example, international accords reached by US presidents require ratification by two thirds of the Senate.  Therefore, in 2018, President Trump was able to withdraw from the 2015 Iran Nuclear Accord (JCPOA), since it was never ratified by the Senate.  Moreover, the US is not committed to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was signed in 1999 by President Clinton, but has yet to be ratified by the Senate.

Furthermore, the 1975 assurance of President Ford to Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin “to give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights,” did not commit any of the succeeding presidents, since it was not ratified by the Senate. A similar fate met President Eisenhower’s 1957 non-ratified assurance issued to Israel’s Prime Minister Eshkol, which implied US willingness to deploy its military in the face of Egyptian violations of agreements in the Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula (which triggered the 1967 War).

On June 19, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six Day War, Israel’s Prime Minister Eshkol and his Cabinet offered “to conclude peace agreements with Egypt and Syria, based on the pre-1967 lines with due consideration to Israel’s security requirements.” Egypt and Syria rebuffed Israel’s unprecedented lavish offer. However, this generous Israeli proposal did not preclude Israeli Prime Minister Begin – who was a member of the 1967 Cabinet – from applying Israeli law to the topographically and geographically overpowering Golan Heights in 1981.

Should future Israeli prime ministers be constrained by the equally- reckless proposals, submitted by four previous Israeli prime ministers, who offered a sweeping retreat from the Golan Heights? Do past Israeli careless peace proposals – which were rejected by Syria – carry more weight than Israeli law and Middle East reality, which has highlighted the erratic, unpredictable, violent and tenuous nature of the Middle East, in general, and Syria, in particular?

In the 2000/2001 Camp David and Taba Summits, Prime Minister Ehud Barak – the shortest term-serving Israeli prime minister – overwhelmed President Clinton and Yasser Arafat by offering to withdraw from 97% of Judea and Samaria, re-divide Jerusalem, transfer some parts of pre-1967 Israel to the Palestinian Authority, and negotiate a return of some Palestinian refugees. That incredible offer – which would have returned Israel back to the pre-1967 nine to fifteen-mile sliver dominated by the mountains of Judea and Samaria – was rejected by the Palestinians.

In 2008, Prime Minister Olmert’s equally reckless peace proposal was rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.

Should future Israeli prime ministers sacrifice Israel’s existential national security requirements – in the volcanic Middle East, which has yet to experience intra Arab peaceful coexistence – on the altar of past foolhardy non-ratified Israeli proposals?

Rather than refraining from the annexation of the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria – which constitute Israel’s most critical line of defense and the cradle of Jewish history, religion and culture – future Israeli prime ministers are advised to follow in the footsteps of Prime Minister Begin.   Prime Minister Begin applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights in 1981, despite his own support of the aforementioned 1967 peace proposal, and in defiance of brutal pressure from President Reagan, including the suspension of a promising defense cooperation agreement. Begin’s defiance triggered short-term friction and acrimony with the US, but yielded long term appreciation for Israel’s posture of deterrence and enhanced Israel’s national security.

 

 




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President Biden’s pressure and Israel’s Judiciary Reform

Israel’s proposed Judiciary Reform ranks very low on President Biden’s order of priorities, far below scores of pressing domestic, foreign and national security threats and challenges.

Therefore, he has not studied the various articles of the reform, but leverages the explosive Israeli domestic controversy as a means to intensify pressure on Israel, in order to:

*Gradually, force Israel back to the 1967 ceasefire lines;
*End Jewish construction and proliferate Arab construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank);
*Advance the establishment of a Palestinian state on the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which overpower the coastal sliver of pre-1967 Israel;
*Re-divide Jerusalem;
*Prevent game-changing Israeli military actions against Palestinian terrorists and Iran’s Ayatollahs.

Israel’s Judiciary Reform and US democracy

If the President and his advisors had studied the proposed reform, they would have noticed the Israeli attempt to adopt key features of the US democratic system, which would end the current situation of Israel’s Judiciary as Israel’s supreme branch of government. The reform aims to provide Israel’s Legislature and Executive branches with the effective authority (currently infringed by the Judiciary) to exercise the responsibility accorded to them by the constituency.

For example:

*Israeli Supreme Court Justices should not be appointed – as they are today – by a committee, which is controlled by Justices (who possess a veto power) and lawyers, but rather by a committee, dominated by legislators;

*The Attorney General and the Legal Advisors of Cabinet Departments should be appointed (and fired) by – and subordinated to – the Executive, not the Judiciary. Their role should be to advise, and not to approve or veto policy matters, as it is today. Their advice should not be binding, as it is today.

*Supreme Court Justices should not be empowered to overturn Basic Laws (Israel’s mini-Constitution).

*Supreme Court Justices should have a limited power to nullify and overturn legislation.

*Supreme Court Justices should decide cases according to the Basic Laws and existing legislation, and not resort to the reasonableness of the legislation (which is utterly subjective), as is the case today.

*The Supreme Court should not be able to overturn legislation by three – out of fifteen – Justices, as is the case today.

*The Supreme Court should be supreme to lower level courts, not to the Legislature and Executive, as it is today.

President Biden’s pressuring Israel

*President Biden’s pressuring Israel reflects the return of the US State Department to the center-stage of policy-making. The State Department opposed Israel’s establishment in 1948, has been a systematic critic of Israel since then, and has been consistently wrong on crucial Middle East issues.

*This pressure on Israel represents the multilateral and cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department establishment, in general, and Secretary Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan, in particular. This worldview espouses a common ideological and strategic denominator with the UN, International Organizations and Europe, rather than the unilateral US action of foreign policy and US national security. It examines the Middle East through Western lenses, assuming that dramatic financial and diplomatic gestures would convince Iran’s Ayatollahs and Palestinian terrorists to abandon deeply-rooted, fanatic ideologies in favor of peaceful-coexistence, enhanced standard of living and good-faith negotiation.  Middle East reality has proven such assumptions to be wrong.

*President Biden’s pressure mirrors the routine of presidential pressure on Israel since 1948 (except 2017-2020), which has always resulted in short-term tension/friction and occasional punishment, such as a suspension of delivery of military systems and not vetoing UN condemnations of Israel.

*However, since 1948, simultaneously with presidential pressure on Israel, there has been a dramatic enhancement of mutually-beneficial defense and commercial cooperation, as determined by vital US interests, recognizing Israel’s unique technological and military capabilities and growing role as a leading force and dollar multiplier for the US. Israel’s unique contribution to the US defense and aerospace industries, high tech sector, armed forces and intelligence has transcended US foreign aid to Israel, and has eclipsed US-Israel friction over less critical issues (e.g., the Palestinian issue).

*The current bilateral friction is very moderate compared to prior frictions, such as the Obama-Netanyahu tension over the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran; the US’ brutal opposition to Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors; the US’ ferocious resentment of Israel’s application of its law to the Golan Heights; the US’ determined opposition to the reunification of Jerusalem, and the renewal of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and Greater Jerusalem; and the US’ strong-handed pressure for Israel to withdraw to the suicidal 1947 Partition lines; etc.

*In hindsight, the US pressure on Israel was based on erroneous assumptions, which could have undermined vital US interests, if not for Israel’s defiance of pressure.  For example, Israel’s refraining from bombing Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors in 1981 and 2007 would have confronted the US and the world at-large with a potential nuclear confrontation in 1991 and a potential Syrian nuclearized civil war since 2011.

*Rogue Middle East regimes consider US pressure on Israel as an erosion of Israel’s posture of deterrence, and therefore an inducement to the intensified threat of terrorism and war, which gravely destabilize the region and undermine US interests (while advancing the interests of China, Russia and Iran’s Ayatollahs), threatening the survival of pro-US vulnerable oil-producing Arab regimes.

*Most Israeli Prime Ministers – especially from Ben Gurion through Shamir – defied presidential pressure, which yielded short-term friction and erosion in popularity, but accorded Israel long-term enhanced strategic respect. On a rainy day, the US prefers allies, which stand up to pressure, and are driven by clear principles and national security requirements.

*Succumbing to – and accommodating – US presidential pressure ignores precedents, overlooks Israel’s base of support in the co-equal, co-determining US Legislature, undermines Israel’s posture of deterrence, whets the appetite of anti-US and anti-Israel rogue regimes, and adds fuel to the Middle East fire at the expense of Israel’s and US’ national security and economic interests.

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