Questions mount over Israel action on ‘annexation’ date

first_imgInternational criticism While the US has offered tacit support for immediate annexation as part of the Trump plan, most of the international community is vocally opposed to the project. Writing in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Wednesday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that although he was a “passionate defender of Israel,” he viewed annexation as “contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.””Annexation would represent a violation of international law,” he said.France, Germany along with several other European states and the United Nations all oppose annexation, as do Gulf Arab states, with which Israel has increasingly sought warmer ties. Jordan, one of only two Arab nations that has diplomatic ties with Israel, has warned that annexation could trigger a “massive conflict” and has not ruled out reviewing its 1994 peace treaty with the Jewish state.   Application of “sovereignty” is a term used widely in Israel to refer to what the international community views as annexation and a breach of international law.Alternate prime minister and defense minister Benny Gantz said this week that annexation must wait until the coronavirus crisis has been contained.Gantz is due to take over as prime minister in November 2021 under the terms of a coalition deal. Netanyahu met on Tuesday with US Ambassador David Friedman, a staunch supporter of Jewish West Bank settlers and of annexation.”I discussed the question of sovereignty, which we are currently working on and will continue to work on in the coming days,” Netanyahu said after the meeting.Netanyahu may still move forward, either later on Wednesday or in the days ahead, with Israeli media suggesting he may announce a merely symbolic move, like the annexation of one settlement on Jerusalem’s outskirts.  But experts have noted that he is keenly watching the US presidential election and may still want to act decisively before January if he fears Trump will not win a second term. Presumptive Democratic party nominee Joe Biden is opposed to any unilateral annexations by Israel.   Expectations of a major Israeli announcement on controversial annexations in the occupied West Bank dimmed Wednesday, as global criticism of the project mounted and Palestinian protesters began gathering in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government had set July 1 as the date from which it could begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.The Trump plan, unveiled at the White House in January, offered a path for Israel to annex territory and Jewish West Bank settlements, communities considered illegal under international law.  Netanyahu has voiced enthusiastic support for the Trump plan — which has been roundly rejected by the Palestinians — but the right-wing premier has not revealed his intentions for enacting the US proposals. In the hours ahead of the self-imposed July 1 kick-off date, a growing chorus of Israeli officials indicated that a major announcement was not imminent. And on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, a Netanyahu political rival now serving in the center-right coalition, told army radio that he thought it was “unlikely something would happen today.”But, he added: “I don’t know if there will be a statement today on the application of sovereignty. That is a question you have to ask Prime Minister Netanyahu.”center_img Topics : Palestinian protesters gather The Palestinians have called for protests against the Trump proposals on Wednesday in the Jordan Valley, Ramallah — the West Bank seat of the Palestinian Authority — and in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement.Protesters began gathering in Gaza City ahead of a demonstration scheduled for 11am (0800 GMT) local time, while rallies in the West Bank were due to start in the early afternoon.The Palestinians have said they are willing to renew long-stalled talks with Israel — but not on terms outlined in the Trump plan.  Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, says that Israeli annexations in the West Bank would be a “declaration of war”.The Islamist group launched some 20 test rockets from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, a move aimed at dissuading Israel from moving forward, Hamas sources told AFP. Israel annexed east Jerusalem following the 1967 Six Day War and then the Golan Heights on the Syrian border in 1981, in moves never recognized by most of the international community. last_img

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