a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy—Revelations 13:1
On the last day of 2013, Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords, after the High Court of Justice rejected a petition to halt the move. The semi-official claims on Israeli media that the USA will release Jonathan Pollard at the same opportunity turned out being false.+
Hebrew newspaper Haaretz had reported on December 28 that following the release of the third group of Palestinian prisoners, Prime Minister Netanyahu will announce Israel's plans for new housing tenders in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It added that both the USA and the EU had warned Netanyahu against such a move.
Netanyahu could have pulled such a rabbit out of a hat. The Palestinians' distraction with their returning sons would have allowed the announcement without creating violence.
Smiling ahead of his joke, Netanyahu sent a hand into the hat, twisted it for the sake of awing the audience, and slowly pulled out a rhino. Hurt after being stepped on by the brutish rhino, the rabbit will wait for another day.
A Rhino Named Annexation Law
Twisting badly, the rhino left the narrow hat ahead of the prisoners release and was quick to hide in the Knesset's narrow corridors. It has no rush to leave the building before the spring. On the last Government meeting of the year (Sunday 29), the Ministers' Legislation Committee* approved the Jordan Valley Annexation Law. This is just the first out of three legislative steps.
The vote was not unanimous. Two leaders of parties forming Netanyahu's coalition, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, voted against and have already announced that they will appeal the decision. This means that the law preparation step in the Knesset's committees will be delayed. Netanyahu claimed that the timing of the law was wrong. Yet, it has been proposed by Miriam Regeb, a loyal member of Netanyahu's party.
The proposed law imposes the administrative and judicial systems of the State on the Jordan Valley settlements and on the roads leading to them. Moreover, the law prohibits construction limitations due to international pressure, unless the Knesset approves that.
In other words, the IDF Civil Administration$ will be replaced by the Israeli Administration. This means the formal annexation of part of the West Bank. It was done before when Israel annexed East Jerusalem and brought international condemnation on itself.&
Expected Protests Covered by the Smog of an Odd Trick
Everybody was busy with the prisoners' release. Nobody paid attention to the proposed law. This is true to the extent that President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas reacted only after two days. Considering that he is about to lose a large and strategic part of his country, this delay is unacceptable.
"This land is ours, and it will remain Palestinian land. Everybody must know that this is a red line that cannot be crossed," he said and rushed back to the celebrations.
This was expected. The surprise came from the Jewish front. The Jordan Valley has always been considered strategic. The importance of its annexation was proclaimed already in 1970 in the Alon Plan (see map below). Yet, another part of the Israeli consensus is that the annexation must be done as part of a comprehensive peace agreement, or in a way that won't draw attention, condemnation, or war.++
Netanyahu's rhino had entered a crystal's shop, scaring most of the Israeli buyers inside.
Dani Dayan, former Head of the Judea and Samaria Council, the settlers' main political organization, reacted after he was approached by the State-owned Israel Radio with an odd request to react to the results of a poll that never took place.
The State-radio claimed that an NGO named "Blue and White Future" that promotes the evacuation of the settlers made a poll through the Mina Tzemah statistics institute. The radio claimed that a majority among the settlers in the Jordan Valley wanted to leave, even without a peace agreement.
Dayan was surprised. Such polls are usually performed in at least 500 houses in order to claim statistical validity. The total number of settlers in that area is below 10,000. Thus, finding someone who had heard about it would have been easy. Yet, nobody heard about that.
Thrilled, he contacted Mina Tzemah. She denied having carried out such a poll. The State was attempting to cover the proposed law with a smart curtain of distracting smog. Fog of war was not good enough for this complex situation.
The reaction he delivered to Israel Radio was sharp: "In upcoming days, we, settlers of Judea and Samaria in general and of the Jordan Valley in particular, are expected to become victims of a psychological war conducted by the extreme left in an attempt to weaken, demoralize and slander us. However, I didn't expect such a despicable attempt."
Where is the Rhino?
Netanyahu's timing was favorable for the Machiavellian plan. Once the celebrations of the prisoners' release would be over, the law would be in the Knesset's committees and away of the media attention.
Even before that, Netanyahu will pull out of the hat, by now widened by the rhino, the rabbit still stuck in it. He will announce construction approvals for several settlements and create a distraction from the proposed law. "I can't see any rhino," will Netanyahu say while sitting on the beast.