Paris – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has affirmed his move to start annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, however the timing and overall scope of the plan remains uncertain after major criticism from the international community condemning annexation as illegal under international law.
As skepticism around the plan lingers, more than 1,000 lawmakers from across Europe have criticized Israel’s annexation plan in a joint letter which calls for the preservation of a two-state solution and warned that if the Israeli government decided to annex any parts of the West Bank, the move would not only violate international law but would be severely disputed by signing parties. In total, 1,080 members of national assemblies and Parliament members from Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK signed the letter.
Missing from the signatories and one of the main supporters of the plan has been the US, due to the creation of the so-called Middle East peace plan announced by President Donald Trump in January this year. Thought to be launched on July 1, 2020, plans have been halted due to lack of transparency and approval from the US administration. Netanyahu has been hoping to win the US administration’s approval before going ahead with the plan to bypass any international criticism.
Trump’s plan which he titled, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” gives Israel clearance to annex roughly 30% of the occupied West Bank – a territory Israel already captured in 1967 during the Six Day War. Claiming sovereignty is not a new concept for the Palestinian people. For decades, hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers have built homes on the occupied territory. The settlements, are without a doubt, positioned on stolen Palestinian land and settlers have been enjoying the benefits of Israeli citizens. Protected every step of the way, they have access to Israeli electricity and water. They have the right to vote in elections, can acquire health insurance, social security and are shielded by Israeli soldiers whilst Palestinians are not.
Trump’s proposed peace plan does not call for the eradication of Palestinians or Israelis from their homes, instead the majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank would be acknowledged as part of Israel. To compensate for the loss of land, the plan meagerly proposes a future Palestinian state near the desert Gaza strip. Whilst roughly 70% the land would remain for Palestinians to help them establish some level of autonomy, they would never fully be an independent state as the Israel army would have control over airspace and borders.
Palestinian leaders and various special rapporteurs from the United Nations have rejected the plan saying it would create a “21st century apartheid.” Opposing the plan, officials said that unilateral annexation would create unequal rights for Palestinians under Israeli authority and would jeopardize any chance of creating a real peace deal with Palestinians. There is also fear of the long-term effects of forcibly obtaining the territory as it may cause ruptures in the country’s alliances with Europe and other Arab countries.
Human rights defender from Hebron, Issa Amro told the Francophone Association for Human Rights (AFDH) of the inequalities and hardships Palestinians would endure should the plan go ahead. Denouncing the plan, Amro called out Israeli right-wing leaders criticizing them for their involvement in the Palestinian-Israel conflict. “They don’t care about Palestinians – they are not the main topic in their discussion. This plan means more economic opportunities and more development and welfare for Israel at the expense of Palestinians and their human rights.” Israel is advancing its campaign of being the sole bureaucratic entity by legitimizing the forced displacement of Palestinians and theft of their land through the approval of Trump’s administration. Amro disclosed to AFDH that Israeli right-wing leaders are using Trump’s support and bad policies to get more and more land in an attempt to make Israeli settlement permanent.
Although Netanyahu’s plan – as of now – is to annex 30% of the occupied territory, the right-wing ideology is to expand and dominate the entirety of Palestinian law. Amro describes it as a deconstruction of Palestinian infrastructure, economy and identity.
“Palestinians will have fewer legal rights, political rights and services.”
Israel will disenfranchise Palestine. The names of streets and neighbourhoods will be changed from Palestinian Arabic names to Israeli Hebrew names. Their land, home and possessions could be stripped from them at any moment and even now, many face assault or murder by settlers, generally with impunity.
“Israel is not accountable for its occupation and is getting away with racism, suppression and segregation.”
The Palestinian Authority is open to the idea of both a one-sate or a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Israel is sightless to any solution and chooses only to wreak havoc. Amro challenged Palestinians all over the world to create more globalization and acceptance of Palestine by starting a civil discipline campaign against the discriminating occupation and encourage more noise from the international community.
As international opposition continues to escalate and Netanyahu struggles to win the support of Donald Trump and his administration, it is imperative that countries around the world hold Israel accountable by imposing sanctions should the plan go ahead. Any supporter of the Israeli occupation clearly has no respect for the principles and morals of the Palestinian people.
Israel’s annexation will potentially create irreversible apartheid thus threatening the political, social and economic rights of Palestinians.
“They will be modern day slaves working in their land but robbed of the right to own it or their products. The future will be violent and dark and will eventually reach a point of saturation where there will be no peace.”
Palestinians should be ready with their non-violent resistance and non-violent campaigning and awareness to help influence and mobilize Israel and the international community to ensure the acceptance and unification of Palestine.