They Say/We Say: "Israel should annex Area C"

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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They Say, We Say: Are settlements really a problem?

They Say: Israel should annex Area C, which came under full Israeli control under the Oslo agreement. Hardly any Palestinians live there and that is where most of the settlers are. Doing so will allow Israel to provide better security for Israelis and recognizes the fact that these are areas that Israel will never give up, even if someday there is a Palestinian leader capable of making peace.
We Say:Israeli annexation of Area C – 60% of the West Bank – would be a death blow to the two-state solution. Certainly, in negotiations Israel has sought and will seek to retain some of this area – i.e., the parts where there are the most settlers. However, the key word here is: “negotiations.”

To be clear: the Oslo Agreement did not grant Israel permanent control over Area C. The designation of this area as coming under full Israeli control was intended to be temporary, pending a permanent status agreement. The fact that such an agreement has not been reached – and the fact that Israel has abused its power and control over the area in the intervening years to massively increase settlements – does not give Israel any legal claim to permanent control over this area.

Moreover, legal status aside, negotiations up to this point have established clearly that Israel’s ability to retain control over any settlements under a future peace agreement will come only via mutually agreed-on land swaps, involving land of equal size and quality. There is no possibility of land swaps that could compensate for all of Area C; nor is there any possibility that Palestinians would ever agree to such a massive annexation of land – an annexation that would render a future Palestinian state politically and economically non-contiguous and non-viable.

In short, annexing Area C would, in effect, be a move by Israel to rip up the Oslo Agreement and to state that it prefers permanent conflict and occupation to negotiations and a future two-state agreement. In doing so, Israel would be openly prioritizing settlements over security and Greater Israel over Israel’s standing in the international community. It would also be a definitive step down the road toward condemning Israel to a future as a pariah state.