Netanyahu pays first down payment for annexation of West Bank

Blue & White president Benny Gantz will be standing at the altar today, but the groom has already explained what this wedding will look like and who will take the lead in this relationship.

One question that is still unclear, for example, concerns Gantz’s conditions for annexing the Jordan Valley – but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already taken out a mortgage and started spending money to prepare the land for moving.

In recent days, the Prime Minister has taken a strong political and economic decision: to grant a loan of NIS 800 million to the Palestinian Authority, of which Israel is unlikely to see a single penny, and another loan of NIS 500 million. NIS every month for the next six months.

These loans will come from taxpayers’ money, even given the economic recession.

So far, Israel has distributed Qatari aid money very generously to buy some silence from the Palestinians.

Now that a government has been formed, the annexation chain of events has quickly set in motion and Israel is pulling money out of its pocket to lull the other side to sleep.

On the one hand, Israel continues to carry out routine arrests to prevent the escalation of tensions as annexation approaches, and on the other hand, greases the wheels of the Palestinian economy.

Netanyahu calls this “economic peace” – throwing a bone at the Palestinians, giving them a better life and dissolving ideological fervor.

Israel allows Palestinians to live in relative comfort, compared to neighboring countries, in the hope that this will outweigh their motivation to fight for political goals.

Netanyahu’s method has proven to be successful over the past decade.

The wars in the Gaza Strip, the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan and many other events that could have potentially set the West Bank on fire passed in relative silence.

Although the Military Intelligence Directorate continued to cry wolf, the wolf never appeared and Netanyahu, apparently, has no reason to get too upset at these warnings.

The Palestinian street remains quite indifferent to all of this.

For example, on Tuesday, outgoing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced that a wheelchair lift will be installed at the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Palestinian media frantically said this was the start of the annexation process, Palestinian officials announced the cancellation of the Hebron Protocol – which stipulates the redeployment of IDF forces to the West Bank city of Hebron – but nothing has really changed.

Israel relies on tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians, who will soon return to work in Israel and the settlements, to keep the peace, as the coronavirus crisis has placed more than a hundred Palestinian families below the poverty line.

Out of 142,000 businesses, which are the beating heart of the West Bank economy, 100,000 have closed.

Some 450,000 Palestinians have been affected by the coronavirus crisis and internal polls show that 80% of the inhabitants of the Palestinian Authority have partially or totally lost their source of income.

According to these polls, the main thing troubling Palestinian society in the West Bank today is the economic situation.

If Israel takes care of the work and the cash flow, life will return to normal and then Israel can end the annexation peacefully.

There is a good chance that this economic peace will work again, but annexation could just as easily have a negative effect on Israel’s strategic position.

Netanyahu has already embarked on a one-sided move, a notion Gantz may not share, but if the price turns out to be heavy, the two leaders will share the blame. Either way, Gantz will be the one to pay up to the last penny.

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