Charities demand UK action against Israel's ambition to annex the West Bank

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - British charities and human rights groups confirmed they will step up pressure on the UK government, demanding it opposes Israeli ambitions to annex parts of the West Bank.

A statement by a number of charities, including Christian Aid, accuses the UK government of having a “lacklustre” response to Israel.

The pressure being applied by the charities was first reported on Tuesday in the UK’s Guardian.

“While reiterating its principled opposition to annexation, and stating that such action is illegal, the UK has consistently failed to outline how it will meaningfully oppose it,” the charities’ statement said.

“The precise shape that this annexation will take remains unclear, though it is likely to encompass existing settlements, and potentially the resource-rich agricultural lands of the Jordan valley that are so vital to the Palestinian economy. But whether an inch of land or the entire West Bank, such a move would be manifestly unlawful.”

The groups, because they have charitable status, make no specific political proposals.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has urged British and other European leaders to show Israel that annexation has a cost and to consider sanctions if the plans go ahead.

Experts have said Israeli plans would effectively end any hopes of a two-state solution to the long-standing conflict and a potential Palestinian state.

The UAE condemned Israel's plan to annex large areas of the occupied West Bank during an emergency Arab League.

Allies and regional powers are opposed to the Israeli plan, and several thousand Israelis also demonstrated against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to extend sovereignty over parts of the occupied West Bank.

The UK Government has said it “strongly opposes” annexation as against international law.

“Such a step would go against the rules-based international order and the UN charter. Annexation could not go unanswered, and we implore Israel to reconsider,” Middle East minister, James Cleverly told the UN.

Palestinian protesters wave flags as Israeli troops take position during a protest against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah. Reuters

Now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a new term in office, there’s little to prevent him from annexing large parts of the West Bank as early as this summer. AP

An Israeli soldier stands guard during a tour made by Israeli parliament members in the Jordan Valley near the Jewish settlement of Maale Efrayim. Reuters

Israeli soldiers take position as Palestinian demonstrators gather during a protest against expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. AP

King Abdullah (r) of Transjordan on May 13, 1948 in Amman with Abed Al Rahman Azzam, the secretary general of the Arab League and Abd Al Elah Ibn Ali, the Prince Regent of Iraq, the day before the beginning of the first Arab-Israeli War. AFP

Palestinians surrender to Israeli soldiers in June 1967 in the occupied territory of the West Bank after Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and Syria and seized the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in Syria as well as the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. AFP

A Palestinian child plays in a refugee camp in Jordan on June 23, 1967. AFP

PLO chairman Yasser Arafat delivers a speech to the Palestine National Council meeting to make the historic proclamation of a Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied territories and to recognize Israel in the Palace of Nations conference hall on November 12, 1988, in Algiers. AFP

US President Bill Clinton stands between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin as they shake hands for the first time on September 13, 1993 at the White House. AFP

Hussein Ibn Talal, King of Jordan and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin shake hands after they exchanged the documents of the Peace Treaty at Beit Gabriel conference centre on November 10, 1994 on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the Palestinian leadership meeting and threatened to end security coordination with Israel and the United States, saying Israeli annexation would ruin chances for peace. AFP

Houses in the Israeli settlement of settlement of Kedumim are seen in the foreground as part of the Palestinian city of Nablus is seen in the background (far left) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reuters

Israel's controversial concrete barrier (C) separating the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov (foreground) in the northern part of east Jerusalem and the Palestinian area of al-Ram (background) in the occupied West Bank. AFP

An Israeli activist holds a banner during a protest against the US peace plan for the Middle East, in front of the US ambassador's residence in Jerusalem, on May 15, 2020, as Palestinians commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the 1948 Nakba or "catastrophe". AFP

A Palestinian shepherd tends to his camels on arid land considered to be in "Area C" (under Israeli security and administrative control), southeast of Yatta town in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. AFP

A general view of the Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh, as seen from the Palestinian village of Azmout near the West Bank City of Nablus. EPA

File photo: The West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Michmash. AP

“Such a step would go against the rules-based international order and the UN charter. Annexation could not go unanswered, and we implore Israel to reconsider.”

The opposition Labour Party wants the government to consider banning the import of goods made in the West Bank.

“The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank, said shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.

“This is a major step, but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences. It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show.”

There are no official figures for the import of West Bank goods.

Updated: July 1, 2020 01:11 AM

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