Responding to President Donald Trump “Vision for Peace,” which encourages and facilitates unilateral Israeli annexation of large parts of the West Bank, opposition from Israeli civil society was widespread. The following is a collection of statements and resources from NIFC project partners and organizations from the NIF network, reacting to the Trump’s administration’s effective greenlighting of unilateral Israeli annexation of the West Bank:
– Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
– B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
– Ir Amim
– Zazim: Community Action
– Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
– Social Economic Academy
– Omdim Beyachad – Standing Together
– Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights
– Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
– Breaking the Silence
– Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
– B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
– Ir Amim
– Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
– Yesh Din
– Forum for Regional Thinking
– Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel is a policy driven legal non-profit protecting human rights and civil liberties of all people living in Israel and the Occupied Territories often referred to as the ACLU of Israel.
After the release of the Trump annexation plan, ACRI released the following statement on Twitter:
“The Association for Civil Rights in Israel is gravely troubled by the declarations of the government of Israel regarding its intentions to unilaterally annex occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank with the approval of the American government and not in the context of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not in the purview of Israel and the United States to make decisions that break international law and [trample on] human rights.
“They are not permitted to decide on their own to annex the territories. They cannot change the status of various territories without taking into account the status of the Palestinians who live there and the fact that that they are likely to be severed from their homeland. In addition, the Israeli government certainly is not permitted to negate the citizenship and rights of non-Jewish citizens of the state.
“[This plan] strengthens the separate dual systems of law that exist in the West Bank, and officially turns the status quo regime into an apartheid regime. This is a victory for anyone who has taken part in the Israeli settlement enterprise, which is, in its entirety, an illegal project of land left and harm to human rights.”
B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights
B’Tselem strives to end Israel’s occupation, recognizing that this is the only way to achieve a future that ensures human rights, democracy, liberty and equality to all people, Palestinian and Israeli alike.
Following the release of the Trump annexation plan, B’Tselem released the following statement:
“…There are many ways to end the occupation, but the only legitimate options are those based on equality and human rights for all. This is why the current plan which legitimizes, entrenches and even expands the scope of Israel’s human rights abuses, perpetuated now for over 52 years, is utterly unacceptable.
“The Trump plan drains the principles of international law of any meaning and completely neuters the concept of accountability for breaching them. Trump suggests rewarding Israel for the unlawful and immoral practices in which it has been engaging ever since it seized the Territories. Israel will be able to continue plundering Palestinian land and resources; it will also get to keep its settlements and even annex more territory; all in complete defiance of international law. Israeli citizens who live in the Territories will continue to enjoy all the rights granted to other Israeli citizens, including full political rights and freedom of movement, as if they were not living inside an occupied area at all.
“Palestinians, on the other hand, will be relegated to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives as the plan eternalizes the fragmentation of Palestinian space into disconnected slivers of territory in a sea of Israeli control, not unlike the Bantustans of South Africa’s Apartheid regime. With no territorial contiguity, Palestinians will not be able to exercise their right to self-determination and will …continue to be at the mercy of Israel’s draconian permit regime and need its consent for any construction or development. In this sense, not only does the plan fail to improve their predicament in any way, but, in fact, it leaves them worse off as it perpetuates the situation and gives it recognition.
“This plan reveals a world view that sees Palestinians as perennial subjects rather than free, autonomous human beings. A ‘solution’ of this sort…is not a legitimate solution. [I]t is no solution at all, just a recipe for generations more of oppression, injustice, and violence.”
Ir Amim (“City of Nations” or “City of Peoples”) focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; its mission is to render Jerusalem a more equitable and sustainable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it and to help secure a negotiated resolution on the city.
After the release of the Trump annexation plan, Ir Amim released the following statement on Twitter:
“There are commentators who claim that Trump’s plan includes a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, and are even chuckling about how [this means] Netanyahu has agreed to divide Jerusalem. “There could be nothing further from the truth: The “Jerusalem” that the program offers to Palestinians refers to the areas that the separation wall cuts off from the city, for example, the Shuafat refugee camp and Kafr Aqab. We are talking about enormous, neglected neighborhoods where 120,000 East Jerusalemites are forced to live because they have no choice, because if they leave they will lose their legal status as Jerusalem residents. [Minister for Jerusalem Affairs MK] Ze’ev Elkin has already tried to extract these areas from the legal jurisdiction of the city, absent American pressure. The implication of this process would be to sever — to literally cut off — a third of the city’s Palestinain population. This is anything but a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.”
Zazim: Community Action
Zazim: Community Action is a campaigning community for social and political change.
Following the release of the Trump annexation plan, Zazim released the following statement and call to action:
“Annexation, apartheid, and population transfer. Last night, an impeached [president, Donald] Trump and an indicted [prime minister, Benjamin] Netanyahu gave the green light to destroy any chance for a future of justice and equality.
“Trump advanced his “peace” plan without even talking to the Palestinians – so it’s no surprise the plan is a roadmap for apartheid and annexation. The plan promotes revoking citizenship from hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel, makes settlements permanent, and shatters the Palestinian state to disconnected enclaves.
“[W]e must raise a clear and loud voice against annexation, and for a future of justice and democracy…”
Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
Gisha is an Israeli non-profit organization whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.
Following the release of the Trump’s annexation plan, Gisha released the following statement in Hebrew, Arabic and English via email, referring to it as a “plan for ongoing conflict”:
“The ‘peace plan’ presented yesterday in Washington D.C. aims to make permanent a reality of fragmentation, isolation and division in the occupied Palestinian territory. Further entrenching the dispossession of Palestinians and perpetuating the occupation are a recipe for ongoing conflict, not peace. […]
“Control over movement means control over life. The sweeping restrictions that Israel imposes on movement of people and goods prohibit economic activity and sentence the Palestinian civilian population to a life of scarcity. Movement restrictions are the violent, everyday norm. They deny people access to livelihoods, education, medical care, and tear apart families and communities.
“Nods to bridges and tunnels are not enough given that the only vision presented in this plan is for enclaves, disturbingly reminiscent of Bantustans, whose residents will be deprived of rights and of control over their own fate.
“Gisha will continue to promote the fundamental right to freedom of movement, a precondition for exercising other fundamental rights and for living a life of dignity. A real solution to the conflict cannot be reached by coercion; it will only come by recognizing the rights of all residents of the region.”
Social Economic Academy (SEA)
The Social Economic Academy (SEA) is a non-profit organization that combines education, training and activism to advance social justice and equality in Israel.
Following the release of the Trump annexation plan, Rami Hod, CEO of the Berl Katznelson Foundation’s Ideas Center and the Socio-Economic Academy, made the following statement via Twitter:
“As progressive Zionists our main line of defense against the delegitimization of Israel is premised on two arguments: A) The West Bank is not formally a part of Israel and its status will be negotiated. B) Palestinians living in the formal borders of Israel are equal citizens.
“Unilateral annexation of the settlements while applying the Israeli law on the west bank undermines these two fundamental [arguments]. It [leads] to a situation where Palestinians in the annexed territories will be denied citizenship and rights. This insures [that the] ‘Deal of the Century’ will become Israel’s very own threat: undermining its existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
Omdim Beyachad: Standing Together
Omdim Beyachad – Standing Together is an Israeli movement of Jews and Arabs, who, guided by the principles of peace, equality and social justice, aim to create social change in Israel.
Following the release of the Trump annexation plan, Omdim Beyachad – Standing Together released the following statement and call to action via email from Maisam Jaljuli, member of the National Leadership. It called for all Israelis, Arabs and Jews, to join together Saturday night in protest of the annexation plan:
“Yesterday, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu decided that Palestinians and Israelis don’t matter. Let me translate this plan to you in personal terms: As a resident of Tira, in the Triangle area, my Israeli citizenship would be revoked under Trump’s plan. I would lose my job, be cut off from my friends and everything I have worked for and contributed to Israeli society. It is an insult to my dignity to even hear of this threat. And, as you know, I’m not the only one whose life would be upended, if not destroyed by this plan.
“Trump and Netanyahu put us all on a path to a future of continued occupation, endless rounds of violence, blood and grief. They called it a “deal,” but it’s a scam. They called it “peace,” but it is the same occupation we have known for decades, only much worse because it will be reinforced by annexation, the exclusion of Arab communities in Israel and impossible demands forced on Palestinians before they can even discuss statehood. […]
“Our demands are simple: a real peace settlement. One that offers self determination and dignity for both sides, an end to occupation and military violence, a complete rejection of annexation or any unilateral territorial claims, full equality for all citizens within Israel.”
Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights
Yesh Din is an Israeli non-profit organization working to protect the human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli armed forces’ occupation.
Following the release of the Trump’s annexation plan, Yesh Din’s executive director Lior Amihai released the following statement via Twitter, accompanying an image of the plan’s ‘conceptual map:’
“Palestine is Bantustan, Israel is Apartheid. Those who see this as a vision for peace are blind to eternal occupation, segregation and prison for the Palestinians.”
Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Adalah (“Justice”) is an independent human rights organization and legal center that works is to promote human rights in Israel in general and the rights of minority Palestinian citizens of Israel in particular.
Following the release of the Trump annexation plan, Adalah released the following statement on Twitter:
“[President Donald Trump’s] ‘deal of the century’ gives green light to Israel’s illegal annexation of massive swaths of occupied Palestinian West Bank and to forced transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Following Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz forming a government whose coalition deal includes a timeline to begin government approval of Trump’s annexation plan, Adalah released the following statement:
The government coalition deal imposing Israeli sovereignty in occupied West Bank is violation of both international and Israeli law; Adalah to attorney general: Clarify that you will act against any government or Knesset move to promote annexation of OPT.
Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara: “We do not recognize any precedent anywhere in the world in which a political agreement to form a government coalition stipulates a commitment to violate international law. Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank – which this coalition agreement seeks to advance – constitutes another step toward abolishing the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the establishment of an apartheid regime. This section of the agreement cannot stand the test of international or Israeli law, and we will continue to take action against it.”
Breaking the Silence
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran IDF combatants who testify before the Israeli public about the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories, aiming to bring an end to the occupation.
In advance of the Trump annexation plan, Breaking the Silence released the following statement on Twitter:
“…Annexationists are celebrating. They know there’s no substitute for [international] support when it comes to apartheid. And make no mistake: that is exactly what’s on the table when we talk about annexation. Israel justifies the occupation by reasoning that it’s only ‘temporary’, even after 52 years. But annexing the Occupied Palestinian Territory without giving rights to Palestinians means that even that argument falls.
“The State of Israel will be one in which one person is eligible from birth to full civil liberties while another person, from birth to death, is subject to the tyranny of being ruled over with none of those rights. That state of affairs has a name. It’s called apartheid. And that’s something that every decent person must oppose.
“Was [it for this that] what we patrolled the alleyways of Hebron and entered the houses of families in the middle of the night? So that after 52 years our government would jump on the opportunity to remodel ourselves on a horrific, racist regime from the last century?”
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
ACRI reviewed all legislative initiatives in the 20th Knesset relating to the Occupied Territories that seek to promote by law the annexation of the West Bank, what is known as “creeping annexation” of the Occupied Territories. The document analyzes the damage annexation legislation have caused to the principles of international law that underlie the laws of occupation – laws that were intended to provide protection for a population subject to foreign military rule, and proposes steps that could help protect human rights in the reality created in the Occupied Territories.
STATEMENT: Israel Establishes Dual Regime in the West Bank
52 Years of Occupation in The West Bank
In recent years, and even more so during the period of the outgoing Knesset, the government has worked to endorse the deepening Israeli hold on the West Bank and the removal of occupation from Israeli public consciousness. These activities are carried out via legislative initiatives and amendments aimed at promoting “legal annexation” of the West Bank. The legislation is not promoted in order to actually apply Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank territories, but rather to institutionalize a discriminatory rule of annexation and occupation. […]
The legislation was intended to expand construction in unauthorized settlements and outposts, and to strengthen the link between settlements and the sovereign State of Israel. However, the legislation is not intended to promote Israeli sovereignty in all of the territories, since the government has neither intention of granting status or voting rights to millions of Palestinians, nor to providing equal education, health and welfare services or freedom of movement throughout the “one state” between the Jordan
B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
B’Tselem launched an interactive map to mark 52 years since the Israeli occupation began in 1967. This resource provides a useful visualization to understand decades of overlapping policies that comprise Israel’s occupation:
“This visualization of the occupation shows how a combination of measures – annexation; establishment of settlements; declaration of “state land,” firing zones, nature reserves and national parks; construction of the Separation Barrier; division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C with varying forms of control; and severing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank – has broken up Palestinian space into separate units that are easier to control in isolation. While Israel imposes restrictions on Palestinian movement as a major means of control, Israelis enjoy freedom of movement within the West Bank, within Israel, and between the two areas.”
RESOURCE: Interactive Map: Conquer and Divide
Just prior to the formal publication of the Trump plan, Ir Amim released a policy paper analyzing concrete developments on the ground in Jerusalem and drawing strong parallels between those moves and the Trump administration’s declarations and stated intentions. Now that the plan has been released, its relationship to the Israeli government’s unilateral moves in East Jerusalem is clear.
EXCERPT: “A myriad of signs point to plans to advance moves consistent with legislative efforts and government initiatives from recent years, including: partial or total annexation of these three settlement blocs, entrenching Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, and excising between a third to half of the Palestinian residents from Jerusalem […] Whether ‘the Deal of the Century’ is implemented or not, the steps and statements that have accompanied it to this point underpin the notion that an advanced understanding has been reached between Israel and the Trump administration concerning far-reaching unilateral and irreversible measures.”
Ir Amim also developed a report on the implications of the plan for the future of Jerusalem.
Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
As one of the few Israeli human rights organizations working mainly in Gaza, Gisha released a report that draws a linkage between the policies of separation practices by the government of Israel towards Gaza and the aims of de facto and de jure annexation policies in the West Bank.
EXCERPT: “Israel’s long-term goal of annexing the West Bank has long been evident in statements made by Israel’s political establishment and in the public discourse. Israel seems to be sensing a window of opportunity to make its already de facto annexation of the West Bank official. …. Even if the American administration promotes new norms and accepts annexation of the West Bank, common consensus for two-state solution remains. At the same time, other members of the international community have not taken tangible or coordinated action to block future steps toward de jure annexation of the West Bank, just as they have not done enough to challenge the creeping de facto annexation by Israel over the past 50 years. In this way, the official diplomatic vision of a two-state solution has effectively been pushed off the table.”
In advance of the Trump annexation program, Yesh Din developed a database that consolidates all of the legislative efforts to date of Israel’s incremental approach to annexation. The database makes clear, according to Yesh Din that these efforts seek to transform Israel “into an apartheid state, in which two types of people live: Israeli citizens who have full rights, and Palestinian residents who lack political rights, as well as other rights.”
RESOURCE: Annexation Legislation Database
In the wake of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz forming a government whose coalition deal includes a timeline to begin government approval of Trump’s annexation plan, Yesh Din released a resource outlining the potential impact on the human rights of Palestinian residents of the West Bank, which includes direct violation of their freedom of movement, property rights (including the further establishment and expansion of settlements), control of natural resources and the entrenchment of Apartheid in the West Bank.
Forum for Regional Thinking
The Forum for Regional Thinking is an independent Jewish and Arab research institute founded to change public discourse and opinion in Israel regarding our relationship with our neighbors.
Analysis from a Forum for Regional Thinking Research Associate Yaël Ronen Research Associate spells out the mechanisms by which Israel might annex portions of the West Bank and challenges that would pose for future territorial compromise and withdrawal.
PERSPECTIVE: “Jordan Valley: Easy to annex, hard to back out” by Yaël Ronen Research Associate
Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared his intention of annexing the Jordan Valley. Professor Yaël Ronen explains how easy this would be under Israeli law – and how hard it would be to undo.
Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
Mitvim is an independent think tank aims to reshape Israel’s relations in the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, by promoting new paradigms for Israel’s foreign policies, enhancing Israel’s regional belonging, and advancing Israeli-Arab peace.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu brings annexation, Mitvim analyst Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin provides insights into possible from international responses to annexation based in other conflicts.
EXCERPT: “Annexation is now completely proscribed by international law, as it “violates the prohibition of the threat or use of force of force,” which in turn protects the inviolability of sovereignty or territorial integrity of existing states. Annexation is unilateral by definition; territory acquired by mutual agreement or treaty is not annexation. Some have posited that annexation is legitimate if the territory did not previously belong to a sovereign state […] Yet, international law has ruled that such cases still fall under the laws of occupation, which in turn prohibit actions in occupied territory that lead to annexation.”
Mitvim has been active on Trump’s annexation plan and in the news cycle. Below is a sampling of their contributions to the foreign policy debate over annexation.
Nimrod Goren, founder and head of Mitvim-the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, argued in the Jerusalem Post that “The international community should say no to the Trump plan.”
EXCERPT: “[The Trump plan] runs counter to previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and
9 understandings on core issues of the conflict: borders, settlements, Jerusalem and even refugees. It serves a right-wing political ideology and electoral goals, while distancing peace. The international community should say no to the Trump plan.”
“As such, the “Deal of the Century” endangers Israel’s future in the Middle East rather than improves it. The international community, which stepped aside from the Israeli-Palestinian issue once Trump took office three years ago, must now make itself heard with a resounding “No.” The same goes for Israeli politicians who still seek to advance peace.”
The New York Times quoted Mitvim analyst Yonatan Touval The New York Times: “Trump Plan’s First Result: Israel Will Claim Sovereignty Over Part of the West Bank.”
EXCERPT: “Critics said annexation could damage Israel’s already strained relations with Jordan, which has a large Palestinian population. The plan’s radical overhaul of the basic terms of reference for talks could so poison the atmosphere as to close the door on negotiations “for years or even decades to come,” said Yonatan Touval, an analyst at Mitvim…”
Mitvim board member Elie Podeh published in Haaretz: “Sorry, Jared, This Time It’s Not the Palestinians Who Have ‘Screwed Up’, It’s You.”
EXCERPT: “The release of a peace plan should … be a cause for celebration. Delving into the details of the Trump peace plan offers no such satisfaction. The plan is doomed to fail for several reasons: First, the Americans, as honest brokers, should have consulted also with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and not only with Israel and the Arab states. … Second, the details of the plan show its clear unilateralism in its adoption of Israeli positions, especially those supported by right-wingers and settlers. It gives a green light to the Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley and the settlements… Third, Egypt and Jordan, signatories to peace treaties with Israel, will now face heavily oppositional domestic public pressure and will not be able to support Trump’s plan, despite the fact that they have an interest in advancing a peaceful solution.”
Mitvim held a forum to discuss the Trump annexation plan yesterday:
Dr. Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu Director of the Program on Israel-Europe Relations at Mitvim, provided analysis on how will Europe react to the Trump plan.
“For decades, the Europeans have stood by a solution of two states for two peoples, based on the 1967 borders. The Trump plan significantly distances the Palestinians from this outcome and may create new norms in conflict resolution that are not acceptable to the EU. It isn’t clear if the EU and its member states will have a united position on the Trump plan. 37 former heads of state and former foreign ministers were the first to respond and called on the EU to not support the plan. The Foreign Minister of Ireland joined them. It appears that the US President reduced the European role in his plan to that of a payer. This annoys the Europeans. However, they are not as happy as Trump is to intervene in Israel towards an election, and perhaps this is a reason for their initial cautious reactions.”
Merav Kahana-Dagan, Deputy Head of Mitvim identified three potentially positive things that might happen following the publication of the Trump plan:
1. The Palestinian issue and the peace process are becoming an issue of debate once again. Since the beginning of the 2000’s, the word “peace” has disappeared from political campaigns and public discourse. It may now return to the discourse.
2. Israeli NGOs have acted over the years with Palestinian partners to find solutions to core issues of the conflict. In contrast to what Trump proposes, their recommendations and dialogue channels can be used in order to find new, real ways to advance peace.
3. It is now clear that the Palestinian issue hasn’t disappeared and won’t be resolved on its own, nor without Palestinian involvement. A growing understanding is emerging in Israel that a crisis with the Palestinians will damage regional ties that Israel advances.