On May 25th, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex parts of the West Bank in the coming months.
He said that the plan was to do so in by July 1st, and that there were no plans to delay it any further.
Netanyahu said that Israel will not miss what he called a “historic opportunity” to extend its sovereignty to Palestinian lands, calling the move one of his newly sworn-in government’s top priorities.
“We have an opportunity that hasn’t existed since 1948 to apply sovereignty in a wise way and as a diplomatic step in Judea and Samaria, and we will not let this opportunity pass,” the PM said, referring to the year Israel was established and using the biblical names for the West Bank.
“We have a target date in July to apply sovereignty and we will not change it,” Netanyahu later told the gathered member of Knesset (Parliament), during a part of the meeting that was closed to media, Israeli media reported.
Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, has been lobbying American officials in recent weeks to back annexation, fearing that the plan could be derailed if Joe Biden wins the presidency in November.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said last week that the Palestinian Authority considers itself free of all agreements and understandings with both Israel and the U.S. — including on security matters — because of Israel’s annexation plans.
On the US side, the White House and the US Department of State said that the deadline provided by Netanyahu isn’t “sacred” and that annexation would be supported by Washington only if it was in the framework of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
Still, the move follows US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the century.”
The deal essentially lets Israel impose sovereignty all the way to Jordan while Palestinians are granted a disjointed and demilitarised entity. The Palestinian state’s capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the disputed city that would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected Israel’s plans and gave his support to Palestinians in a video statement to U.S. Muslims on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
“We will not allow the Palestinian lands to be offered to anyone else. I would like to reiterate that Al Quds Al-Sharif, the holy site of three religions and our first kiblah, is a red line for all Muslims in the world,” Erdogan said, referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said annexation would violate international law and vowed to use “all our diplomatic capacities” to stop it.
Saudi Arabia, which formally has no relations with Israel, and it’s an open secret that Riyadh and Tel’Aviv coordinate in many fields, announced its “rejection of the Israeli measures and plans to annex Palestinian lands.”
The Arab League has condemned it as a “war crime,” and both Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab countries at peace with Israel, have harshly criticized it.
The envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and the EU issued a formal objection to the Foreign Ministry against the move.
“We are very concerned about the clause in the coalition agreement that paves the way for annexing parts of the West Bank. The annexation of any part of the West Bank constitutes a clear violation of international law,” the ambassadors said. “Such unilateral steps will harm efforts to renew the peace process and will have grave consequences for regional stability and for Israel’s standing in the international arena.”
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