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Editorial | The Legal Coup Is the Means. The Ends Are Annexation and Apartheid

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While public attention is focused on the government’s planned legal coup and the opposition and the protest movement are both devoting their energy to preventing it, the settlers are expanding their settlement enterprise, preparing to annex territory and erase the Green Line – the line between Israel and the West Bank where Israeli sovereignty ends and on which the two-state solution is based.

On Sunday, the cabinet approved a decision that will shorten the process of obtaining building permits in the settlements and give Bezalel Smotrich, a minister in the Defense Ministry and finance minister, the power to approve planning procedures.

The settlers’ patience has paid off. After 27 years, they have managed to bring about a change in the way the system operates. The government decided to give a messianic settler, one who favors Israeli sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel and supports Jewish supremacy, the power to speed up construction in the settlements.

Granted, there has been construction there until now, but for decades every stage of the process needed approval at the political level, and this mechanism enabled at least a bit of the construction to be blocked. For years, defense ministers and prime ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, have intervened periodically due to political, security or diplomatic needs, to the settlers’ displeasure.

The change will remove some of these checks, accelerate construction and hand the power to approve plans to Smotrich instead of the defense minister. That is what he was promised in the coalition agreements, in which Netanyahu sold the country to form a government at any price. This means the Supreme Planning Council will now be able to discuss master plans without needing the government’s approval at all stages. In other words, the settlers will decide for themselves and the state will fall in line. Next week, the Supreme Planning Council will discuss plans for building thousands of homes in the settlements.

Smotrich and the settlers understood very well that Netanyahu’s utter dependence on the extreme right opened a historic window of opportunity for them, and they are exploiting every moment of it to take over more and more Palestinian land to build, alter the area irreversibly and entrench one large apartheid state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The crisis that Israel is mired in is a golden opportunity for the settlers and their destructive project.

The Palestinian Authority announced in response that it will boycott a meeting of the Joint Economic Committee with Israel that was supposed to take place on Monday. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry also denounced the decision as a gross violation of both international law and the international community’s decisions. But no one should assume this will be enough to puncture the settler government’s megalomaniac delusions.

The international community, the opposition and the protest organizations must understand that the legal coup is just the means; the goals are annexation and apartheid. The fight against them must be a top priority for anyone who cares about Israel’s future.

Article link:
Article source: Haaretz | Editorial | Jun 19, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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