Gantz and Ashkenazi
Gantz and AshkenaziElad Malchah

As a unity government with the Left in control of a majority of key ministerial positions and committees takes shape, heads of the religious Zionist movement have proclaimed that "sovereignty trumps even a unity government at such a critical moment." Leftist NGOs have noticed too, and signaled their strong dissaproval of a move to annex Judea and Samaria to leaders of the Blue and White party, involved in coalition negotiations with the Likud.

Today, Commanders for Israel's Security, a group of former Israeli security personnel, issued a letter to Blue and White heads MKs Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, stating:

Against the backdrop of coalition negotiations, we, the hundreds of members of commanders for Israel's security (CIS) and other former senior officers of the IDF, the Mossad, the Israel Security Agency, and the Police, found it essential to issue this warning:

The Corona crisis, one of the most severe crises since the Establishment of the State of Israel, demonstrates how we unanticipated developments become major threats to each individual and the whole nation as a whole. We call attention to another, equally potentially ominous development: unilateral annexation.

CIS analysis concluded that unilateral annexation has the potential to ignite a serious conflagration. It shows that a partial annexation will set in motion a chain reaction over which Israel has no control; leading to the collapse of the Palestinian security agencies and Palestinian authority. This, in turn, would require Israel to take control over the entire West Bank and assume responsibility for the lives of 2.6 million Palestinians.

Such unilateral steps would jeopardize the peace treaty and security cooperation with Jordan, coordination with the Palestinian security forces, and the very Jewish character of the State.

Furthermore, the annual cost of assuming responsibility for civilian life in the territories would approach NIS 2 billion. The corona crisis, which exposed the limitations of Israel's health care system, and the vast economic damage it has caused, should serve as a warning to what would happen if we are forced to care for and finance millions of Palestinians once annexed by Israel.

You, the government and the Knesset, much refrain from taking such irresponsible action, but rather ensure that:

  • Prior to voting for unilateral annexation of any kind, any MK and cabinet members demand that relevant government agencies challenge our findings and hold a transparent discussion on their conclusions.
  • A clear answer is provided for the question of what are the expected benefits from annexing territory where we already enjoy freedom of military and civilian action, that justifies the risks we identified.
  • Before making any decision about annexing, the government share with the public its full ramifications and the exit strategy from the ensuing economic, military, and political imbroglio.

Do not proceed with unilateral annexation (of settlements, settlement blocs, or the Jordan Valley), for Israel will have no control over the ensuing chain reaction.

The document states that it is "signed by 220 generals and equivalents."