Visiting Russia as part of a delegation from the Netanyahu government this week, Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel demanded that the world “forget” about the idea of the Palestinian state, and said Israel’s goal should be to immediately annex 60% of the occupied West Bank, the part labeled as “Area C.”
Area C is the part of the West Bank under direct Israeli military control, and Ariel, a settler and outspoken hawk, insisted it is an area “where there are no Arabs at all,” later conceding “we would remove a few thousand, who do not constitute a significant numerical factor.”
Beyond the huge diplomatic blowback from such a move, Ariel’s math is considerably off. The UN estimated 297,500 Palestinians in Area C in 2014, and even the lowest estimates from the Israeli government claim at least 50,000. That’s a non-trivial amount of ethnic cleansing, and while it might play well in Israel’s new far-right government, it would fuel costly repercussions, likely including sanctions from much of the international community.
Several Israeli officials have advocated annexation, with Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett suggesting annexation of the area and making the 50,000+ Arabs “the responsibility of Jordan.” Ariel has conceded the annexation of Area C is just the first step, and that Israel would eventually depopulate and annex the rest of the West Bank. This would mean the removal of roughly two million more Palestinians to “somewhere.”