Originally published in
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, TOVAH LAZAROFF, OMRI NAHMIAS
MAY 8, 2020 07:13
The Palestinians have turned to the UN to halt Israel’s pending plans to annex West Bank settlements, with a Security Council discussion on the matter expected to be held on May 20.
Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the Palestinians were seeking a “wide and powerful front in the UN to prevent Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank.”
Mansour said the Palestinians sent letters to the UN Security Council and General Assembly regarding Israel’s “illegal plans concerning settlements and annexation.” He said he expected the Security Council members to discuss the Israeli plan during the council’s session on May 20.
Earlier this week, the “Arab Troika” in New York, under the chairmanship of Oman, met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and warned him about the repercussions of the Israeli plan.
“The Arab delegation emphasized the illegality of all colonization and annexation measures by Israel, the occupying power, and strongly condemned Israel’s plan to annex large areas of the West Bank in grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN resolutions and the charter prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force,” the Arab group said in a statement.
“They deplored Israel’s cynical exploitation of this period of global pandemic to advance these illegal plans, and underscored the international community’s broad rejection and demands for a halt to these illegal actions.”
The Arab delegation warned that Israel’s actions “are severely violating the Palestinian people’s rights and destroying the viability of the two-state solution on the pre-1967 borders.” The Arab delegates also warned that, if not stopped, Israel’s “illegal actions would result in a one-state reality, bringing only more conflict and suffering and impeding prospects for peace and security in the entire region.”
In Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to chair a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee on Thursday night to discuss Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
This would be the second meeting of its kind during the past few days to discuss the plan.
Earlier this week, Abbas chaired a meeting of the Fatah Central Council and again threatened to renounce all signed agreements with Israel in response to the annexation plan.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said Thursday’s meeting would discuss the need to take a series of decisions to confront the Israeli plan. Erekat called on the international community to prevent Israel from proceeding with its plan.
Separately, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from the settlers to move forward on the plans immediately, particularly now that the High Court of Justice ruling that gave a stamp of approval for his premiership.
Netanyahu should “announce in front of Knesset that he will now seek to promote the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria,” Efrat Council head Oded Revivi said.
“This declaration, alongside a written timeline, will result in a greater commitment from the new government that is forming. It is equally important for everyone to understand that the application of sovereignty will occur,” he added.
“Netanyahu will speak in favor of the application of sovereignty, and after his speech, an overwhelming majority of Knesset members will vote for it. This will mean that even in this political arena, both the national and international communities will internalize and accept the Israeli decision that will come from the consensus of a broad government,” Revivi said.
The pressures comes on the heels of US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggesting the US was ready to back the plans and that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should resume.
“As a new government is formed, it would be appropriate for [support for the Trump plan] to be re-upped by the leader and then to proceed in good faith on that basis,” he told The Jerusalem Post earlier this week.
Friedman’s remarks drew attention in the US, as well. Martin Indyk, former ambassador to Israel and envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, tweeted: “Pied Piper Friedman leading Israel off a cliff, with Bibi playing the big drum and [Blue and White leader] Bennie [Gantz] the timbrel and the rest of us too disillusioned or distracted to do anything about it.”
J Street, the progressive Jewish group, similarly slammed Friedman. a J Street spokesperson said “it’s been clear for years that Ambassador Friedman – a longtime benefactor and advocate for the settlement movement – sees it as his personal mission to encourage illegal, unilateral Israeli annexation in the West Bank.
“As he indicates in this interview, the entire Trump plan is simply a vehicle to provide an American green light annexation under the false pretense of supporting negotiations towards a two-state solution,” J Street spokesperson added. “But no matter what [US President Donald] Trump and Friedman say, the truth is that annexation would be a disaster for the long-term interests of Israel and the United States–which is why it’s strongly opposed by the Israeli security establishment, the majority of Israelis and responsible lawmakers here in the US.”
The Israel Policy Forum released a scathing statement as well. “We are disappointed that Benny Gantz has agreed to this step as a condition for forming a unity government, not least because it is a departure from his previous statements and stances on the subject of West Bank annexation,” the statement read.
“We hope that the new Israeli government closely examines the potential consequences of unilateral annexation and the deleterious impact it will have on Israeli security and diplomacy and that it heeds the warnings against unilateral annexation that have come from Israeli security experts, the United States Congress, the European Union, foreign policy experts and American Jewish leaders,” the organization added. “As Israel’s year of political instability now comes to a close, we urge Israel’s leaders not to take any steps that may put its future stability at risk.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that “The Palestinians are continuing their policy of negation and obstinance. Instead of futile and irrelevant actions, they should return to direct negotiations. Any decision to apply sovereignty will be made in Jerusalem by the Israeli government, and nowhere else.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.