The British government has reaffirmed its opposition to Israeli plans to annex Palestinian territories in the West Bank and restated its support for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. This was made clear in a letter two weeks ago — Middle East Monitor has seen a copy — from Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa John Cleverly. The MP told Arab-Israeli Knesset Member Yousef Jabareen that, "We are concerned by reports that the new Israeli government coalition has reached an agreement which may pave the way for annexation of parts of the West Bank."
The letter was sent by Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to correspondence from Jabareen to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 26 July. "The UK position is clear," confirmed the minister, "[A]ny unilateral moves towards annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel would be damaging to renewed efforts to restart peace negotiations, and contrary to international law."
Cleverly assured the MK that, "We continue to urge Israel not to take these steps." He added that Johnson had already "conveyed the UK's opposition to unilateral annexation to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu on multiple occasions, including in a phone call on 6 July and a letter in June."
Britain's view of the conflict and the key to peace, the minister said, maintains that the "two-state" path is the only viable solution. "Ultimately, we support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living aside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees."
Cleverly lamented the fact that "a just and lasting resolution that ends the occupation and delivers peace for both Israelis and Palestinians is long overdue," saying that Britain is continuing to work with international actors to achieve those aims. He cited the Foreign Secretary's separate discussion of the issue with the French and German Foreign Ministers back in June.
Israel's annexation plans were intended to seize 30 per cent of the West Bank, covering Palestinian territories, illegal Jewish-only settlements and strategic areas such as the Jordan Valley. They were made public following the formation of the latest Israeli coalition government.
When the annexation plan was set to go ahead on 1 July, it was contested within Israel by many in the government and the armed forces, and caused international outrage. The latter included warnings that Israel's relations with the European Union and others could deteriorate if the plan went ahead.
Although Netanyahu postponed the move, he reasserted last week that he has not abandoned his annexation plan; it has simply been delayed following a request from the US and the United Arab Emirates' peace deal with the occupation state.