The day that the international community has eagerly awaited starts without surprises. The sky over Israel is blue, the sun is shining. The front pages of the two largest daily newspapers alone suggest that July 1 is a special day. The left-wing newspaper Haaretz warns on the front page of the consequences of the annexation, the conservative Jerusalem Post quotes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "We are still working on sovereignty." The sentence looks like an apology from a man who can't keep his promise on time.
Since the 1st By July, the Israeli government is legally allowed to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Sovereignty is the word that the government uses to take land illegally under international law. The plans have been reported for months, and experts have been wondering for months what the implementation will look like. Will 30 percent of the West Bank be captured or just a few large settlements declared sovereign? It is no less than deciding whether the Israeli government will expand the territory and thereby upset the Palestinians, Arab neighbors and large sections of the international community.
There is little traffic this morning at the Checkpoint Gush Etzion East. The regular bus gets through quickly. He drives at high speed on the well-developed road that connects Jerusalem to the large settlements in the Judean hills. The desert landscape is dry and barren. In the distance, olive trees wither, golden domes of the minarets of Palestinian villages glitter, steel security fences of the Israeli settlements sparkle. After half an hour the journey ends in the settlement of Tekoa, directly across from the only supermarket in town. Shaul David Judelman sits in the shade on a bench and welcomes the visitor from the heartland, as Israel is called here. "Welcome," he says, stubbing out his cigarette.
Settlers and Palestinians together
Judelman, 41, father of four, was born in the United States. He has been living in Israel for 20 years, now in Tekoa for six years. With his broad knit kippa and wild beard, Judelman looks more like a religious hippie than a right-wing settler. "Even most Israelis equate settlers with ultra-orthodox and cannot assign someone like me," he says, standing up, inviting him to take a tour.
Just over 3,600 people live in Tekoa, the settlement was founded in the 1970s and is right next to the Palestinian village of the same name, in which 8,000 people live. Both sides claim the Herodium, a biblical palace complex. "But the people here are less religious, less strict, everyone leaves room for the ideas of the other," says Judelman, showing the nearby, small organic shop with a café, which offers chemical-free soap and vegan cheese. Girls in shorts sit outside eating ice cream, two men work on their laptops.
The settler Judelman is a peace activist. As director, he leads the Roots organization, which is committed to the cooperation of settlers and Palestinians. Menachem Fromandie founded the group 15 years ago, together with Palestinian activists. Froman was an Orthodox Rabbi in Tekoa and acted as a mediator between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership several times. Froman wanted to find a way to escape the contradiction with which he and the settlers live. "Unlike the ultra-orthodox settlers, Froman believed that I believe that this country does not belong to us alone, but that we belong here," says Judelman on the way to the synagogue. Inside, the rows are empty and the air is cool and fresh. Judelman uses the moment to breathe deeply. "We belong here," he says. "Just like the Palestinians."
Fear of new escalation
Survey values fluctuate, but about half of Jewish Israelis appear to fundamentally support the annexation plans. Judelman and his MotionRoots do not support the plan and are therefore part of the other half. The reasons for this are different, some do not want to say goodbye to the two-state solution in the sense of the Oslo Treaty. The others fear that the moment that new borders for Israel's territory are officially drawn, the borders of a later Palestinian state are also unofficially set. All critics are concerned about the consequences of the unilateral decision. They are afraid of a new escalation of violence at a time when Israel, like the rest of the world, is fighting the consequences of the corona pandemic. According to a poll by Channel 12 television, only five percent of Israelis believe that affiliation should be a priority.