Countries line up to warn Israel against annexing Palestinian territories

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It’s a war crime’: Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu annexation bid

UK, Jordan, Germany, France, Egypt Say Won’t Recognise Unilateral Changes to 1967 Borders

Tel Aviv Today: Several thousand Israelis demonstrated against prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to extend sovereignty over parts of the occupied West Bank, de-facto annexation of land that the Palestinians seek for a state.

Protesting in face masks and keeping their distance from each other under coronavirus restrictions, they gathered under the banner “No to annexation, no to occupation, yes to peace and democracy”. Some waved Palestinian flags.

The demonstration was organized by the left-wing Meretz party and the communist Hadash faction of the majority-Arab Joint List, along with several other left-wing rights groups. who screened a video address by U.S. Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders.

“It has never been more important to stand up for justice, and to fight for the future we all deserve,” Sanders said. “It’s up to all of us to stand up to authoritarian leaders and to build a peaceful future for every Palestinian and every Israeli.”

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war.

Netanyahu has set July 1 as the date to begin advancing his plan to annex Israel’s settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, hoping for a green light from Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump has unveiled a peace plan that includes Israel keeping its settlements and the Palestinians establishing a state under stringent conditions.

Palestinians have rejected the proposal and voiced outrage against Israel’s proposed annexation.

Warning of possible violence and diplomatic repercussions, some European and Arab states, together with the United Nations, have urged Israel not to annex its settlements, regarded by many countries as illegal.

European countries are lining up to state their position on Israels planned illegal annexation of the Palestinian West Bank.

Boris Johnson has warned Israel not to annex West Bank territory saying the UK would not recognise ‘any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties.’

In an op-ed for Israel’s ynetnews, the U.K. prime minister says plans to incorporate land occupied during the 1967 war would jeopardise the progress Israel has already made in improving relations with the Arab and Muslim world, and give the country’s enemies the opportunity to undo the positive developments so far achieved.

“It would … be a gift to those who want to perpetuate the old stories about Israel,” he said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to extend his country’s sovereignty over parts of the West Bank containing Jewish settlements. It would mean around 30 percent of the land being incorporated into the state of Israel.

António Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, said the peace process is at a “watershed moment.”

“If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations,” he said last week.

Recalling his own experience of working on a Kibbutz when he was 18, Johnson writes that while he is a “life-long friend, admirer and supporter of Israel,” the proposals “will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”

Such a scenario would be all the more regrettable, Johnson continues, because “Israel’s interests overlap with those of … partners in the Arab world, including potential security cooperation against shared threats.”

He said that compromise on all sides would be required to “hammer out a solution” that delivers justice and security to both Israelis and Palestinians.

“I refuse to believe that this is impossible,” he added.

The UK Middle East minister, James Cleverly, told the UN security council last week that the UK “strongly opposes” annexation as a breach of international law. “Such a step would go against the rules-based international order and the UN charter. Annexation could not go unanswered, and we implore Israel to reconsider,” he told the UN.

The Labour Party’s position

Labour’s Lisa Nandy said the proposal to annex nearly a third of the West Bank would undermine the prospects for a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and had serious implications for the stability of the Middle East.

“It is a shameful proposition to which the UK cannot be a silent witness. Across the world concern is growing … So far the UK government has been conspicuously absent from this global response,” she said.

“This is now urgent. The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is a major step, but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences. It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show.”

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, responded by urging Sir Keir Starmer the Labour Party leader not to go down the route advocated by Nandy, saying it would be divisive.

Political charlatans

Politics of the status quo and the political charlatans

Jonathan Cook paints an accurate picture when he says: The problem for the Labour right and Israel’s lobbyists, and therefore for Starmer too, is that Israel, egged on by Trump, is working overtime to blow up the carefully constructed claim – proposed by the IHRA definition of antisemitism – that Israel is just another normal western-style state and that therefore it should not be “singled out” for criticism. 

Like Johnson, Starmer will play his allotted role in this political game of charades – one long understood and tolerated by Israel and its UK lobbyists

Israel is on a collision course with the most fundamental precepts of international law by preparing to annex large areas of the West Bank. This is not a break with Israeli policy; it is the culmination of many decades of settlement activity and resource theft from Palestinians. 

This is a potential moment of crisis for those on the Labour right, who could quickly find themselves exposed as political charlatans – the charlatans they always have been – by Israel’s actions over the coming weeks and months.

Starmer has indicated he is determined to tightly delimit the room for criticism of Israel within Labour as the annexation issue unfolds. That will leave him and the party free to issue their own carefully crafted, official condemnations – similar to Johnson’s.

Like Johnson, Starmer will play his allotted role in this political game of charades – one long understood and tolerated by Israel and its UK lobbyists. He will offer some sound and fury, the pretence of condemnation, but of the kind intended to signify nothing.

This has been at the heart of UK foreign policy towards a Jewish state built on the theft of Palestinian land for more than a century. Starmer has shown that he intends to return to business as usual as quickly as possible. 

Labour a divided Party

“It is on this last point that the Labour left, including many of the party’s half a million members, and the Labour right decisively part company. A gulf in worldviews opens up. 

Israel symbolises for the Labour left some of the most visible hypocrisies and excesses of a neoliberal global agenda

Along with the climate emergency, Israel symbolises for the Labour left some of the most visible hypocrisies and excesses of a neoliberal global agenda that treats the planet with slash-and-burn indifference, views international law with contempt, and regards populations as little more than pawns on an updated colonial chessboard. 

Israel’s recent history of dispossessing the Palestinians, its unabashed promotion of Jim Crow-style ethnic privileges for Jews in the form of the nation-state law, its continuing utter disregard for the rights of Palestinians, its hyper-militarised culture, its decades-long occupation, its refusal to make peace with its neighbours, its deep integration into the West’s war industries, its influence on the ideologies of the “war on terror” and a worldwide “clash of civilisations”, and its disdain for international humanitarian law are all anathema to the left. 

Worse still, Israel has been doing all of this in full view of the international community for decades. Nonetheless, its crimes are richly subsidised by the United States and Europe, as well as obscured by a sympathetic western media that is financially and ideologically embedded in the neoliberal establishment. 

Israel is on a collision course with the most fundamental precepts of international law by preparing to annex large areas of the West Bank. This is not a break with Israeli policy; it is the culmination of many decades of settlement activity and resource theft from Palestinians.

This is a potential moment of crisis for those on the Labour right, who could quickly find themselves exposed as political charlatans – the charlatans they always have been – by Israel’s actions over the coming weeks and months.

Starmer has indicated he is determined to tightly delimit the room for criticism of Israel within Labour as the annexation issue unfolds. That will leave him and the party free to issue their own carefully crafted, official condemnations – similar to Johnson’s.

Like Johnson, Starmer will play his allotted role in this political game of charades – one long understood and tolerated by Israel and its UK lobbyists. He will offer some sound and fury, the pretence of condemnation, but of the kind intended to signify nothing.

This has been at the heart of UK foreign policy towards a Jewish state built on the theft of Palestinian land for more than a century. Starmer has shown that he intends to return to business as usual as quickly as possible.

European countries join in their condemnation of any annexation of the West Bank

Nine EU member states, including Sweden, Hungary and Poland, have already recognised the state of Palestine. But Israel has strong support in central and eastern Europe, and EU foreign policy is conducted by unanimity.

Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan issued a joint statement Tuesday saying that they categorically reject Israel’s plan to annex part of the West Bank, and that such a move would “violate international law and could also have an impact on relations with Israel.”

After a joint video conference, the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan issued a statement saying: “We exchanged views on the current status of the Middle East peace process and its regional impact.

“We are unanimous in our view that any annexation of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 would be contrary to international law and would jeopardize the foundations of the peace process,” the four countries’ foreign ministers said in a statement issued by the German foreign ministry after a videoconference.

“We also agree that such a move would have serious consequences for the security and stability of the region and would constitute a major obstacle to efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just peace,” the ministers continued, warning that it could potentially “have consequences for relations with Israel.”

The videoconference was held as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently mulled extending his country’s oversight over parts of the West Bank containing Jewish settlements — deliberations that have angered the Palestinian side.

The four foreign ministers instead offered their help in finding “a constructive new beginning” in the region, adding they would not recognize any change to the 1967 borders unless it was agreed to by both parties to the conflict.

Netanyahu spoke to Boris Johnson about the issue on Monday evening saying:

“Israel is prepared to conduct negotiations on the basis of President Trump’s peace plan which is both creative and realistic and will not return to the failed formulas of the past,” the Israeli government said in a statement.-

Article by Paul Knaggs with source and extracts from Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: www.jonathan-cook.net

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