The timing and scope of the plan is still uncertain, but when Israel announces its expected decision to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, the world’s attention will turn to the immediate impact. People who care about the region will be watching closely to see if Palestinians rise up in protest, if the Palestinian Authority will collapse or be disbanded, if Arab countries cut off budding ties with Israel, or if European countries impose sanctions on Israel or recognize a Palestinian state. After all the warnings that annexation will trigger a disaster, all eyes will be on how the various parties respond.
The good news for proponents of annexation is that while such dramatic developments are possible, none are likely. The bad news for them, however, is what annexation means in the longer term. Israel’s formal incorporation of parts of the West Bank will not only violate international law and deny Palestinians basic rights, but it will set off a process that will further erode Israeli democracy, isolate Israel internationally, and undermine the bipartisan U.S. support that has been so central to its success.