How Israel’s Arab Triangle Came to Be

Feb. 20 2020

In an interview with an Arabic-language television station on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he would not cede a cluster of Arab villages, known as the Arab triangle, to a Palestinian state as called for in the U.S. peace proposal. The authors of the plan hoped that the area, which abuts Samaria and has an Arab-majority population, could be exchanged for territory of a roughly equal area in the West Bank that will be annexed by Israel. The people of the triangle, however, wish to continue living in Israel and have protested vociferously. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains the secret negotiations between Israel and King Abdullah of Transjordan (now Jordan) that created the enclave:

In the course of the fighting between May and July 1948, the Arab Legion had cut off the Wadi Ara road—the direct link between Tel Aviv and the Galilee—and entrenched itself firmly in the hills above it to the northwest. The Israeli delegation had instructions to do all it possibly could to have the Arab Legion retreat to the southeast of this road and leave it in Israeli hands. As it stood, the Legion had the IDF by the throat in that region, forcing traffic to move down longer and more roundabout routes.

The Israeli government was prepared to pay for the recovery of Wadi Ara, and the assumption was that the price would be high. Surprisingly, the king agreed without hesitation to withdraw his troops several miles to the southeast. To the king, who was keen to reach an agreement with Israel, the road his Legion had cut led from nowhere to nowhere. In his view, he was not really losing anything by conceding it, and it could be worthwhile to make a gesture toward Israel.

The agreement was signed on April 3, 1949. Immediately thereafter, King Abdullah annexed the West Bank and changed the name of his country from Transjordan to Jordan.

The [peace proposal] claims that “these communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the armistice line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated.” In fact, the armistice lines with Jordan were the outcome of intensive bargaining with King Abdullah that led to a territorial “deal” as a compromise.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli history, Israeli War of Independence, Jordan

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship