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Over 1,000 lawmakers sign letter opposing Israel’s annexation plan 

June 24, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Palestinians gather to stage a protest against Israel’s annexation plan of the West Bank on 22 June 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

More than 1,000 elected officials from 25 European countries have signed a letter opposing Israel’s latest planned annexation of Palestinian territory, Haaretz has reported. With the illegal annexation of the occupied West Bank just days away, lawmakers in Europe and America are growing anxious over Israel’s flagrant disregard for international law. The plan has been met with a chorus of disapproval from the international community.

In their letter, the parliamentarians expressed support for the position taken by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who warned Israel that annexation “could not pass unchallenged.” Borrell’s comment suggested that the EU is ready to take punitive measures against the Zionist state.

“We are deeply worried about the precedent this would set for international relations at large,” said the parliamentarians. “For decades, Europe has been promoting a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the form of a two-state solution, in line with international law and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.” That is clearly still the preferred option.

Directing criticism at US President Donald Trump’s “peace plan” which Israel regards as a green light for annexation, the letter added: “Regrettably, President Trump’s plan departs from internationally agreed parameters and principles. It promotes effectively permanent Israeli control over a fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinians with no sovereignty and giving a green light to Israel to unilaterally annex significant parts of the West Bank.”

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The lawmakers also expressed their concern about the impact of annexation on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as its destabilising potential in a region on Europe’s doorstep. They called on EU member states to “act decisively in response to this challenge” and “take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict.”

Similar anxieties were echoed in the US where leading Democrats, including many who are traditionally backers of the state of Israel, united against annexation. Chuck Schumer, one of the most hawkish supporters of Israel in the Democratic Party, and a close ally of pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, joined with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to warn against the move. The two haven’t always seen eye to eye on Israeli settlements, with Schumer often refusing to display any public hostility to the occupation state.

Both, however, spoke at a virtual event organised by the Israel Policy Forum and were united in their opposition to annexation. “Our ardent support for Israel doesn’t mean we should lose sight of this goal,” Schumer is reported saying in Haaretz. After explaining that Congress has had a “long standing bipartisan position” of rejecting “unilateral steps by both sides” — a view many will disagree with given the rapid expansion of Israeli settlements — Schumer said that it was “urgent” to show America’s commitment to a two-state solution. After suggesting that there were challenges ahead, he concluded by saying that “Israel is worth it.”

In her remarks, Rice implied that annexation would mean the end of the two-state solution and in such a situation Israel could no longer be considered a democratic state. The two-state solution, she insisted, is “the only way to keep Israel Jewish and democratic.”

Warning of the threat that annexation will pose to Israel, Rice added: “Fundamentally, Israel will either not be able to sustain itself as a Jewish state, or it won’t be able to sustain itself as a democracy. In my estimation, either outcome is one we have to avoid at all costs. When it comes to annexation, it all but makes the objective of a two-state outcome impossible. It would also alienate Israel from its neighbours, particularly Jordan.”

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