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Jan 21, 2013 | 17:38 GMT

Israel's Elections and the Future of the Peace Process

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Israel's Elections and the Future of the Peace Process

In the 1993 Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three temporary administrative districts: Areas A, B and C. Area C contains most Israeli settlements as well as almost all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert. It is strategically important because it allows Israel to directly control its border with its eastern neighbor, Jordan. Area C represents approximately 61 percent of West Bank territory, but only 4 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank live in Area C. The Jewish Home party, which is expected to perform well in the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections, has proposed that this area be annexed and that the Palestinians who live there be given Israeli citizenship. The proposal to annex Area C would suggest that some in Israel perceive that the attempts at peace have failed to ensure Israel's security and that only unilateral moves on Israel's part can achieve peace. Annexation is not a new idea. The Area C annexation that Jewish Home advocates is similar to an idea associated with Yigal Allon, a mainstay of the Labor Party early in Israel's political history. After the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel took over the West Bank from Jordan, Allon proposed that the land that now corresponds to Area C be annexed by Israel and that the West Bank be returned to Jordan. Although the Allon Plan was not officially adopted, Israel built more and more settlements as it tried to solidify its hold on the West Bank and achieve strategic depth. Jewish Home's platform is extremely unlikely to become Israeli policy. Israel's relationship with the United States and its need for stability with its neighbors make that impossible, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will try to form a coalition with the Labor Party or other centrist parties in order to avoid being subject to heavy political pressure from pro-settlement religious nationalist parties. Even if the Jan. 22 elections bolster Jewish Home's position in the Knesset and force Netanyahu to build a coalition with parties that strongly advocate further settlement in the West Bank and a more unilateral foreign policy, Israel still needs to maintain its relationship with the United States, despite the two countries' diverging interests on a number of issues.

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