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The UK has been 'non-committal' in tackling Israel's plans to annex the West Bank

People gather in Tel Aviv to protest against Jewish settlements and Israel's annexation plan of the West Bank on 23 June 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
People gather in Tel Aviv to protest against Israel's annexation plan of the West Bank on 23 June 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Europe has an important role to play in combatting Israel's illegal annexation of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, speakers at a webinar held yesterday said.

Hosted by the European-Palestinian Relations Forum (EuroPal Forum), the webinar heard from Independent Member of the House of Lords Baroness Tonge, Member of the European Parliament Jakop Dalunde, United Kingdom Member of Parliament Mickey Bradey, and the General Director of the League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds Dr. Makram Balawi.

In her address, Baroness Tonge said her questions to the UK government regarding Israel's planned annexation have repeatedly been rebuffed by officials. the UK government is making "representations to the Israeli government", she is told again and again. A response which she believes is indicative of the UK's "non-committal" position regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

As a result, the UK will not impose sanctions on Israel should the occupation state go ahead with annexation plans, as it believes that "persuasion and discourse is a better way of doing things".

READ: Annexation and the need to be proactive

Though one could argue that Israel had abandoned the two-state solution years ago, Jakop Dalunde MEP explained in his address, its plans to annex the West Bank has eradicated the pretense that it is working towards a two-state model.

Europe, he added, is "not living up to its words in putting pressure on Israel", with the different resolutions pushed through the European Parliament targeting Israel for accountability often not being actioned practically.

"The way that they [Israel] are acting is removing all of the arguments that political actors in Europe used to be able to have in defending their support of Israel, and in defending their lack of interest in promoting peace," he added.

In spite of this, there is still a big gap between criticism of Israel and doing something more actionable, he explained.

It is this that worries Palestinians, General Director of the League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds Dr. Makram Balawi, explained. The international community needs to signal that there will be a heavy price for illegal annexation, he continued.

Netanyahu: US prevented me from carrying out annexation plans

Israel's new government was expected to present its strategy last month for implementing the so-called "Middle East peace plan" drawn up by the Trump administration. The plan gives Israel a free hand to annex large parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, which the Jewish state occupied in 1967.

Palestinians believe Israel's plan will see the occupation state illegally seize 30 per cent of the West Bank. They have said they are no longer bound by treaties agreed with Israel if annexation goes ahead.

The plan was "postponed" after US officials and Israelis could not agree on how and when the annexation efforts could begin.

EuroPal Forum's event comes within a series of parliamentary seminars/webinars organised by Europal Forum to develop relations with politicians, parliamentarians and opinion leaders in Europe and with all popular forces and solidarity organisations with the aim of strengthening the Palestinian narrative of the conflict among European societies.

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