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 the international community united to condemn annexation as illegal under international law.
As scepticism around the plan lingers, more than 1,000 lawmakers from across Europe criticised the plan in a joint letter which calls for the preservation of a two-state solution and warns that if the Israeli government decides 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, the Czech Republic, 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, which first outlined the idea in its so-called ‘peace plan’ for the Middle East. America has, however, not given Israel the go ahead to annex the Palestinian territories. With Netanyahu delaying his plans in order to win the US administration’s approval.
US President Donald 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 per cent of the occupied West Bank – a territory Israel captured in 1967 during the Six Day War. Claiming sovereignty is not a new concept for Israel. For decades, hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers have illegally built homes on occupied land. The settlements are illegal under international law but are protected by Israel and provided electricity and water by the occupation state.
Trump’s proposed ‘peace plan’ allows for these illegal settlements located in the occupied West Bank to be acknowledged as part of Israel. To compensate for the loss of land, the plan proposes a future Palestinian state near the Gaza Strip. Whilst roughly 70 per cent of the West Bank would remain accessible to Palestinians, they would never be able to establish a fully independent state as the Israel army would have control over their 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”.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 move, Amron called out Israeli right-wing leaders, saying:
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 legitimising the forced displacement of Palestinians and the theft of their land through the approval of Trump’s administration.
Israel’s right-wing leaders, Amro continued, are using Trump’s support and 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;
deconstructing Palestinian infrastructure, economy and identity, Amro explained.
“Palestinians will have fewer legal rights, political rights and services.” The names of streets and neighbourhoods will be changed from Palestinian Arabic names to Israeli Hebrew names, he warned. Their land, homes and possessions could be stripped from them at any moment and even now, many face assault or murder at the hands of settlers, of act with impunity.
“Israel is not accountable for its occupation and is getting away with racism, suppression and segregation,” noted Amro.
As international opposition continues to escalate and Netanyahu struggles to win the support of Trump and his administration, it is imperative that countries around the world hold Israel accountable by imposing sanctions should the plan go ahead.
Annexation will potentially create irreversible apartheid thus threatening the political, social and economic rights of Palestinians. Amro added.
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.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.