What would it take to assert sovereignty over Judea and Samaria?
At the present time there is no chance of this happening. Objective conditions do not favor it, nor is there any large body of public opinion in Israel that demands it. Yet whatever compromises they may have had to make, the founders of the state of Israel always saw sovereignty over the entire land of Israel as their ultimate goal.
What would it take to realize this goal in the not too distant future?
In the first place it would take the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. So long as the Palestinian Arabs enjoy an internationally recognized status as the legitimate rulers of Judea and Samaria any claim by Israel to authority over the same region will be viewed as illegitimate. But no matter how many countries pass resolutions recognizing a Palestinian Arab state, the fact remains that the Palestinian Authority is merely a facade behind which stands the armed rule of Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in Judea and Samaria. The more intense the factional infighting between Fatah and Hamas the less authority the Palestinian Authority can exercise. It has not been able to hold elections for many years now because neither faction is willing to take the risk of losing its position of power. In practice it has become little more than a collection agency for the transfer of funds from the „international community“ to the armed forces of Fatah and Hamas.
Since both Fatah and Hamas are dedicated to the destruction of Israel this means that the Palestinian Authority cannot possibly make peace with Israel. It does not have the independent power to do so much less the ability to enforce any agreement it might sign. But so long as everyone pretends that it is in fact a real government there is no way that Israel can effectively challenge the hold of Fatah and Hamas on the Palestinian Arab population. It would take some kind of crisis, brought on perhaps by the death of Abbas, to reveal just how irrelevant the Palestinian Authority really is. At that point Israel might well step in with a plan for the Israeli administration of Judea and Samaria, but for this to happen such a plan would have to actually exist.
At the present time the closest thing to a plan for Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is the program of the Jewish Home party for the de facto annexation of Area C. Under the Oslo accords Judea and Samaria were divided into three parts: one under Palestinian Authority control, one under joint Israeli and Palestinian control and one -Area C- under full Israeli control. All of the Jewish communities built since 1967 are located in Area C, whereas relatively few Arabs live there. Even if all of them were to receive Israeli citizenship it would not greatly affect the electoral balance
On the other hand the political repercussions of the Israeli annexation of Area C could be severe. Not only would the „international community“ react strongly but the Palestinians are likely to respond in a violent way.
The problem with simply annexing Area C is that it undercuts the basis for a Palestinian state without putting anything in its place. The Palestinian Arabs formally claim Area C as part of the future Palestinian state and they are supported in this by a large part of the „international community“. When Abbas says, as he often does, that not one Jew will be permitted to live in the future Palestinian state, he is calling for the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Area C. The Israeli annexation of Area C would be an appropriate response to this stance, but in order to succeed it needs to be situated in the broader context of a plan for the integration of the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria into the Israeli political system. It would take a plan of this kind to counter the opposition which the Israeli annexation of Area C is sure to arouse.
There is no need to wait for a crisis before drawing up the broad outlines of such a plan. The greater the pressure on behalf of a Palestinian state the greater the need to formulate and popularize a clear alternative that could serve as the official position of the government of Israel. And in particular this means coming to grips with the thorny issue of granting Israeli citizenship to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. Arabs would then become something like one third of the population of Israel, whereas they are now approximately one fifth. Could Israel remain the nation state of the Jewish people with such a large Arab minority?
In the final analysis the answer to this question depends on the ability of Israel to disarm Fatah and Hamas. At present both these anti-Semitic organizations use their armed force to suppress the slightest sign of pro-Israeli feelings among Palestinians. Granting the Arabs of Judea and Samaria Israeli citizenship while leaving Fatah and Hamas intact would certainly create unfavorable conditions for the survival of Israel as a Jewish state. Disarming them is the essential precondition for the open expression of pro-Israeli views among the Palestinians. Given the many advantages which Israeli citizenship would offer to the Palestinians, taken together with the fact that Jews would still form a majority of two thirds of the population, there is every reason to believe that Israel would remain a Jewish state with a certain degree of Arab support if Fatah and Hamas were disarmed.
But even after disarming Hamas in Judea and Samaria there would remain the problem of Hamas in Gaza. Gaza did not form an integral part of ancient Israel, and it is today too densely populated by Arabs to be absorbed into Israel. Ruled over by Hamas it has become the Palestinian state that so many claim to want. Israel has little choice but to accept this situation and treat Gaza as an independent state over which Israel does not claim sovereignty. On the other hand Israel has every right and duty to defend itself against aggression by this Palestinian state. However completely disarming Hamas in Gaza does not appear to be a realistic option at this time.
Fortunately, Gaza is a small space which is easily contained. Judea and Samaria form a large part of the land of Israel and border on major Israeli population centers. Either they will be integrated into Israel or they will become, under the guise of a Palestinian state, a base from which to assault the nation and people of Israel. But in order for the „international community“ to accept the Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria it would take a recognition of the profoundly anti-Semitic character of both Fatah and Hamas. They have taken the billions of dollars of foreign aid which they have received and used it not to create a better life for the Palestinian Arabs but solely to harm Israel. They are not fit to rule over Judea and Samaria and if Israel would come up with a reasonable plan for improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria they will not be able to continue to do