Finally, after decades of perseverance, one of the most energetic and enduring diplomatic delusions of the modern era is at last giving way to reality.
Notwithstanding the recent UN Security Council vote regarding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s subsequent temper tantrum on the same subject, it is time to formally pronounce the death of the so-called two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
This is not a matter of wishful thinking, ideological zeal or messianic fervor. It is a cold, hard fact and the Left and the international community need to accept that we have now entered the post-Palestine era.
Just take a look at the numbers. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are currently some 400,000 Israeli Jews living in Judea and Samaria. Add to that the more than 200,000 Jews living in eastern Jerusalem and the sum total of Jews residing in the areas liberated by Israel in 1967 is more than 600,000.
That means that nearly one out of every 10 Israeli Jews, or 10% of the Jewish population, live in “the settlements.”
And their number continues to grow at a pace that is more than twice as fast as the rest of the country, averaging around 4% per year.
Indeed, since 2001, despite waves of Palestinian violence and terrorism, including stabbings, shootings and stone-throwings, and various building freezes imposed by the Israeli government, the number of Jews calling Judea and Samaria home has more than doubled.
Remarkably, over the past 15 years, without exception, the settler population has grown annually irrespective of the economic, diplomatic or security situation.
So whether Meretz, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or US President Barack Obama like it or not, the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, along with eastern Jerusalem, are here to stay.
There are over 130 Jewish communities spread throughout the territories, as well as dozens of undocumented outposts. Does anyone really think it would be possible or even desirable to forcibly evict so many people from their homes? Even the Palestinians have come to accept this reality. In poll results published last week by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a whopping two-thirds of Palestinians said they no longer believe the two-state solution is viable because of the growth of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Hence, it appears that the only people remaining who continue to believe in the establishment of a Palestinian state are those who frequent smoke-filled cocktail parties on the diplomatic circuit, where free-flowing alcohol makes the mantra of an independent “Palestine” still sound germane.
And that is precisely why recent calls by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for Israel to start annexing Judea and Samaria make so much sense.
Since Palestine cannot and will not arise, there is no reason for Judea and Samaria’s Jews to continue to live under military rule. Residents of Shiloh, Hebron and Tekoa are tax-paying citizens, so it is only fair that they be extended the rights that the rest of the nation enjoys.
Extending Israeli law to places such as Ariel and Kiryat Arba will once and for all remove any question marks hovering over their status in the eyes of future Israeli governments.
Bear in mind that even among the broad public there is widespread consensus that places such as Ma’aleh Adumim must remain part of Israel.
The community was built and expanded by none other than Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, both of whom repeatedly stated over the years that Ma’aleh Adumim was an inseparable part of the Jewish state.
In 1994, just a year prior to his death, Rabin told the Knesset, “A united Jerusalem will include Ma’aleh Adumim, as well as Givat Ze’ev, as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty.”
Annexing Judea and Samaria will dash the delusions of those who continue to cling to the idea of the creation of “Palestine.” And with the incoming Trump administration set to assume power in two weeks, now more than ever must the Jewish state press forward with practical plans to annex the areas.
This coming May will mark 50 years since our brave soldiers liberated Judea and Samaria and reunited Jerusalem after 19 centuries of foreign occupation. The best way to celebrate this momentous anniversary would be for the Israeli government to end five decades of ambiguity and finally send a clear message to the international community: the Jewish people did not return to Zion in order to hand it over to our foes.