“Bennett’s Plan”: The Ultimate of Israel’s Expansion Designs

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

A series of plans to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict have been proposed over the years by successive Israeli governments, yet with varied seriousness, but most focusing on confiscating/ stealing the Palestinian land and getting rid of its national people. Their well-known weapon, in addition to war, blockade and oppression, is the colonial settlement policy. All these plans are broadly consistent in rejecting an independent Palestinian state, and solely seek to declare a ‘purely Jewish state’.

The most recent plan was proposed by Naftali Bennett the minister of education and leader of the rightist Jewish Home Party. He suggested granting self-rule to 40% of the West Bank linked to the Zionist state, annexing the remaining 60% to Israel and pushing the Gaza strip to establish an independent Palestinian state! To consolidate the desired self-rule for the Palestinians, he proposed setting up an economic bail-out program similar to the American Marshal plan launched at the end of World War 2 to help Europe. Bennett’s plan proposes huge economic investments in the infrastructure to achieve prosperity. The plan excludes Jerusalem, which Bennett considers as the “eternal capital” of the Zionist state, and he totally denies Palestinian refugees around the world the right to return to the proposed Palestinian self-rule areas.

Bennett is also confident that all in Israel support his plan: Prime Minister Netanyahu, the ministers and the ‘people’. Results of opinion polls recently announced on Israel’s public radio, confirm his belief. Half of the Israeli Jews support annexation of all the occupied Palestinian land to Israeli sovereignty. Bennett believes his ideas can easily be implemented, saying “it is the time now to choose our solution, the sovereignty, i.e. taking the largest area of land with the least number of Palestinians”. The solution, he goes on to say, is “to do what we did in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights by imposing the Israeli sovereignty there” The international community, he says will “eventually accept that because the world does not like weak states that give up their lands!!”

Bennett, along with his Jewish Home party is Netanyahu’s most important ally. Yet the widening corruption investigation of the Israeli prime minister along with the return of his old-new alliance with “defence minister” Avigdor Lieberman, his coordination with the US President Donald Trump on the ‘settlement’ issue, have boosted Bennett’s appetite for the prime minister’s post. It appears that he has become certain that Netanyahu’s term in office is coming to an end.

Israeli political analyst Ze’ev Kam wrote saying: “Bennett decided to provoke Netanyahu to madness. In response, the prime minister decided to announce the establishment of new housing units in Judea and Samaria, together with his new ally, Avigdor Lieberman, but not during the ministerial council meeting in which Bennett participates”.  Kam added that “it is no secret that Lieberman and Bennett have recently emerged with a growing sense of hostility and many mutual attacks against the backdrop of settlement construction, especially because of Bennett’s actions toward the new US administration. It seems the conflict between the two over who will succeed Netanyahu will grow dirtier”.

The conflict between Netanyahu and Bennett rages from time to time. Bennett has declared explicitly that there should be work towards regional economic development based on initiatives; preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state, imposing sovereignty on Israeli areas in the West Bank, stabilization of Gaza Strip and strengthening the state of Israel to become a security, intelligence, and economic source in the region.” He concluded by saying that “Israel should move to set its own ambitions, otherwise, its fate will be decided by others. Netanyahu must back off from the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Bennett was even more outspoken on the issue. In an interview with the Washington Post following the UN Security Council resolution against the Jewish “settlements”, he said that “Israel was not clear in its position for many years. Israeli prime ministers from the right and left spoke about the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of our land, but at the same time, Israeli policies do not support this vision. I think that is the reason why the world was frustrated. What I want to see is Israel matching words with actions”.

It appears that the parties to the ruling coalition in Israel are aware that extremism-which Bennett embodies today- paves the way to the prime minister’s office, although the government of Netanyahu is the most extreme in the history of the Zionist state. Bennett, the most prominent representative of the ‘settlers’, does not attempt to beautify his image to the world, and works openly, more than others, to inculcate extremist tendencies in official institutions, such as the army, the education system and the judiciary. Indeed, Bennett and his party propose and support all racial laws. Needless to say that Bennett was the first who demanded legitimization of the Jewish settlement. Moreover, he, cabinet ministers and Knesset members of his party were the first to lead incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound along with colonial settlement in the heart of Jerusalem’s Palestinian quarters. They were also the first to call for the killing of Palestinians on mere suspicion of stabbing attempts. It was also Bennett and his party who called for “paying a price” policy against Palestinians in the 1948 land by demolishing homes in Arab towns on grounds they lacked construction permits.