LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Palestinians have long expected to establish an independent state in the West Bank. But for decades, they've had to watch as Israeli settlers move in with protection from the military. Israeli leaders say they'll soon annex some of the territory, that is declare it part of Israel for its strategic value and its ties to Jewish history. So can Palestinians do anything to stop Israeli annexation? NPR's Daniel Estrin explores.
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Palestinian leaders have little leverage to stop Israel from annexing land. But here's what they are doing. They've stopped cooperating with Israel on everything from taxes to policing to even matters of life or death. Take the case of Souad Abdel Hadi, who was just diagnosed with leukemia.
SOUAD ABDEL HADI: (Through interpreter) The doctor said last time, if we do not do the bone marrow transplant immediately, we will lose Souad.
ESTRIN: She needs to travel from Gaza to a hospital in the West Bank. But for her to travel, Palestinian officials need to ask Israel's permission, which they say is a humiliating acceptance of Israeli control. So they stopped coordinating hospital visits. People like Abdel Hadi are paying the price.
ABDEL HADI: (Through interpreter) This is a human situation. This is a medical situation. We are sick people that need treatment and should not be hostages to this political situation.
ESTRIN: Here's another example - Israel collects taxes for the Palestinian Authority, then transfers them the money. Palestinians say they should collect their own taxes and now are refusing to take the funds, even though the Palestinian economy will suffer. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh says this moment requires Palestinians to make sacrifices.
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MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: I know it's pressure on the people. There is bread at the end of the day that has to be provided for children. But also, as I have been always saying quoting the Bible, it is not with bread one lives only. Annexation - if we accept it, we are a bunch of traitors. Annexation is an existential threat.
ESTRIN: Palestinian leaders hope this will get the international community's attention to stop Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from annexing. But they vow not to resort to violence.
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SHTAYYEH: We will continue to maintain law and order. We will not allow things to go into chaos under any circumstances.
ESTRIN: Palestinians have fought uprisings against Israel. They've signed peace accords, but none of it won them independence. Now they feel let down by the world. Years of international condemnation has not stopped Israeli settlements from growing in the West Bank. Some Palestinians are calling for a whole new approach. Columnist Dalal Iriqat.
DALAL IRIQAT: I mean, it's a waste of time if we keep using the same tools and repeating the same statements and relying on the international community to put pressure on Israel. I mean, look at the ground. The number of settlements expansion - it left no space geographically speaking for our Palestinian state. We're living annexation anyway de, facto. So why don't we sit back, watch it happen and have Netanyahu declare the end of the two-state solution?
ESTRIN: She wrote this in a Palestinian newspaper. A lot of Palestinian intellectuals now say Jewish settlement growth in the West Bank has left no room for a viable state. They say the only option now is one state for Israelis and Palestinians, with equal rights for all and, though Israel would oppose this, ending the idea of a Jewish state.
IRIQAT: Universal values, universal human rights and civil rights will definitely prevail even if it takes time.
ESTRIN: But the Palestinian leadership is still not giving up on the idea of statehood. They say if Israel pushes forward with annexation, they'll call on the world to recognize a State of Palestine, putting Israel into the controversial position of having annexed the land of another country. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Ramallah in the West Bank.
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