Road to Annexation: The Paper Trail

Ethan Bronner’s article on Highway 443, the Israelis-only West Bank road, is now up at the New Yorks Times.

Bronner cites the documents first published at South Jerusalem, proving that the road was conceived from the start as part of settlement plans, contrary to what the government told the Supreme Court. As I’ve written:

…the road was planned in the mid-70s as part of a wider plan for Israeli settlement around Jerusalem. In turn, that plan reflected the original Allon Plan, drawn up by the-Labor Minister Yigal Allon in July 1967, immediately after the Six-Day War. The road’s purpose was to serve settlements and the eventual annexation of West Bank land to Israel. Everything else was purely a cover story…

My previous post on the subject, Lies, Damn Lies, and Supreme Court briefs, referred to the Yigal Allon’s July 1967 proposal to annex the area where the road now lies. Here’s the original document: (continued below image)

Allon Plan, July 1967 - proposal to cabinet - section on annexations north and south of Jerusalem

Allon, then minister of Labor and a leader of the socialist, irredentist Ahdut Ha’avodah party, decided in the midst of the Six-Day War that his long-time belief in annexing the entire West Bank was impractical. Israel could not absorb the Arab population, he concluded. In the days after the war, he put together what became known as the Allon Plan, which he submitted to the cabinet in late July, 1967. Here’s my description in The Accidental Empire:

He proposed to his cabinet colleagues that they vote immediately to annex the barely populated strip six to nine miles wide along the Jordan. Farther south… he leaned toward annexing Bethlehem and Hebron, noting that Rachel’s Tomb was in the former and the latter held the Tomb of the Patriarchs, sites “that are valuable to us nationally and traditionally.”… But he also allowed for the option of leaving the two cities as an Arab enclave, like the larger enclave he would create north of Jerusalem, where most of the West Bank’s Arabs lived. The enclaves, surrounded by Israeli land, would be given autonomy, or as he called it on another occasion, “home rule.”…On annexed land, he said, Israel should establish settlements….

As part of the plan, Allon also wanted to widen the Jerusalem Corridor, the strip of land connecting Jerusalem to coastal Israel. In the first line of the text above, he writes:

From the suburbs of Ramallah, the [border] line should be draw westward so that the Latrun-Beit Horon-Jerusalem road will be in Israel’s hands.

Politically divided, the cabinet never voted on Allon’s plan. Informally, though, the Allon Plan became the settlement plan of the Labor-led governments that ruled until 1977. Settlements were established in the areas that Allon designated for annexation. The idea was to “create facts” so that in any future negotiations, these areas would remain under Israeli rule.

In the mid-70s, during Yitzhak Rabin’s first term as prime minister, plans were made for a new highway, approximately along the route of the older road that Allon described. When the Likud took power in 1977, it inherited the plan for the road and the settlements along it.

Eventually, land was expropriated from Palestinian landowners, who challenged the expropriation before the Israeli Supreme Court. The government argued that the purpose of the road was to serve the local Palestinian population, and was therefore permitted under international law on military occupation. Unfortunately, the court accepted that story.





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