Condemning the Israeli Annexation of the West Bank.
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Starting July 1, Israel is going to begin its plans to annex the West Bank.
What is the West Bank?
It is a landlocked territory bordering Jordan and is a part of the Palestinian Territories alongside the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It has been occupied by Israel since 1967. It has an estimated population of 3 million Palestinians and around half a million Israeli settlers residing in illegal settlements.
What does annexation mean?
It is the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state. In other words, it is colonization. It is an illegal act under international law.
How is the annexation going to happen?
Starting July 1st, and in coordination with America, steps will be taken to formally annex illegal Israeli settlements as well as the Jordan Valley. This follows years of land theft through the forced displacement of Palestinians and the creation of illegal settlements. By annexing the West Bank, Israel would be taking over occupied Palestinian territory and making it a part of the Israeli state.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu, a far right politician, was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in 2019. He struggled to win the Israeli elections after 3 inconclusive elections that resulted in a coalition government with his rival Benny Gantz. One of his biggest campaign promises was the annexation of the West Bank. Since the being of Trump's presidency, the Israeli far right has been enjoying the blind support of the White House. For example, Donald Trump singlehandedly overturned decades of US policy by:
1. Recognizing Jerusalem, instead of Tel Aviv, as the Israeli capital.
2. Accepting and supporting Israel's claims to sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.
3. Denying the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Therefore, Netanyahu is trying to fulfill his camping promise while he still enjoys American support and while the world's attention is diverted to other matters, such as the pandemic.
Is this legal?
No. Annexation is an illegal act under international law. In a 2013 Report by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UN declared that Israeli settlements constituted multiple violations of the Geneva Conventions and international law. The High Court of Justice in Israel has also repeatedly stated, for more than 4 decades, that Israel's presence in the West Bank is in violation of international law.
What are the future consequence?
Once the West Bank is annexed, it will be virtually impossible to reverse Israel's illegitimate territorial gains in Palestine. This also runs the risk of the collapse of the Palestinian Authority as well as the possibility of risking the Oslo Agreement between Israel, Jordan, and Egypt with its de facto allies in the Gulf. More importantly, Palestinians living in the West Bank will suffer tremendously. There are very serious threats of massive expropriation of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families, and entire communities from the annexed territories. The current estimate is 300,000 Palestinians will be displaced. Serious, severe, systematic violence is a very real threat to the Palestinians living in the West Bank.
How are other countries reacting to this?
Europe (represented by the European Union), Israel’s biggest trade partner, was quick to condemn Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and impose sanctions against Moscow. However, its response to Israel’s colonization has been weak.
Within Europe: Germany’s Foreign Minister has stated that the annexation will destroy any lingering hopes for establishing a Palestinian state and reaching a two-state peace agreement. However, he refused to specify how or if the EU or Germany will respond to this issue.
The UK’s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, told Parliament: "Our long-standing position is that we do not support the annexation of parts of the West Bank, and... doing so could make a sustainable two-state solution harder.” Yet, the UK continues to trade with Israel, which results in the violation of the human rights of Palestinians. Between 2014 and 2018, the UK issued individual licenses for £364 million worth of military equipment and technology for export to Israel, as well as 20 open licenses, allowing unlimited deliveries over a 3-5 year period.
In France, the Government recently convicted and fined Palestinian solidarity campaigners for promoting a boycott of Israeli products. Boycotting is the most peaceful way of protesting. The European Court of Human Rights found the French government's actions to be a breach of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have warned against the annexation but no serious measures were taken.
Canada has been radio-silent.
While Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinian cause are fighting for their lawful right to peacefully protest (through boycotting), Israel is getting away with unlawfully annexing the West Bank and destroying the lives of many Palestinians.
We, therefore, urge Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau to publicly condemn Israel's unlawful annexation of the West Bank.
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