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Netanyahu’s ‘Annexation for Immunity’ formula

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to get immunity in exchange for his willingness to annex West Bank settlements.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted by supporters of his Likud party as he arrives to speak following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary election at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RC142FAD5F40
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As of this writing, the New Right party led by ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked has not garnered sufficient votes to get into the Knesset — it did not amass the four-mandate threshold. When the extent of his party’s election failure became clear after the polls closed on April 9, Bennett — the man who crowned himself Israel’s next defense minister — claimed the soldiers would take care of his party the way he always looks out for them. He was referring to the votes of tens of thousands of serving soldiers that are counted after the other ballots and which could yield a sufficient number of votes for the New Right to cross the electoral threshold into the Knesset. However, even if the soldiers save him from oblivion, Bennett’s party will only have four representatives in the new Knesset, depriving him and Shaked of any significant sway in the radical right-wing government that Netanyahu is expected to form. That said, the seeds sown by Naftali Bennett in Netanyahu’s fourth government will sprout in Netanyahu’s fifth.

Bennett first flew the banner of annexation of West Bank lands in 2012. In the 2019 election campaign, he drew all the right-wing parties, including Netanyahu himself, into a competition of annexation declarations. The two words “territorial annexation,” once considered acceptable only in radical circles, have slipped into legitimate public discourse. After the right wing crushed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, depicting him as an obstacle to peace, and with most Israelis disbelieving that peace with the Palestinians based on a two state for two people solution is possible, the annexation prospect no longer sounds so absurd. As far as the right-wing electorate is concerned, annexation may even be de rigeur.

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