A “turning point” that will constitute a “more serious violation of international law”: this is how United Nations chief Antonio Guterres described Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley.
Addressing a virtual meeting of the The UN Security Council on Wednesday, Guterres repeated a call for Israel to abandon its US-backed plans, which could be launched next week.
If implemented, the UN secretary-general said, the annexation “would seriously harm the possibility of a two-state solution and undermine the chances of a renewal of the negotiations.”
“I call on the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans.”
Guterres’ call was echoed by other leaders and foreign ministers who addressed the virtual meeting, warning that Israel’s unilateral action could trigger a major escalation in the region.
“For three decades, real peace and the creation of an independent Palestinian state remain elusive … Despair dominates the Palestinian mood and scene.” The head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said.
Wednesday’s meeting is seen as the last international before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government begins planned discussions on July 1 about the annexation of the West Bank, territory that Israel captured in a 1967 war and that Palestinian leaders are seeking a future state.
At the UNSC meeting Nickolay Mladenov, the UN peace envoy for the Middle East, warned of the legal, security and economic implications of such a move.
“Annexation could irrevocably alter the relationship of Israeli-Palestinian relations. It risks investing a quarter of a century of international efforts and the support of a viable future Palestinian state,” said Mladenov.
“Today we are further than ever from this goal [of a two-state-solution]”
Mladenov noted that international condemnation has also been widespread, including strong opposition from the European Union to the planned plan.
On Wednesday, more than 1,000 parliamentarians representing 25 European countries signed a letter denouncing Israel’s plans, urging its leaders to bypass the annexation process and save prospects for a two-state solution.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki warned that any annexation would be a “crime” and would have immediate and tangible repercussions.
He said Israel’s goal for decades has been to take “the maximum Palestinian land, with a minimum of Palestinians.”
“Israel is testing the resolve of the international community, thinking that its colonial apartheid will prevail … We must prove it wrong,” al-Malki told the council, asking that the international community impose sanctions against Israel to deter its plans.
Seven European nations, Belgium, Great Britain, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland and Norway, in a joint statement warned that annexation would “severely undermine” prospects for resuming the Middle East peace process.
“Under international law, annexation would have consequences for our close relationship with Israel and would not be recognized by us,” they warned.
Al Jazeera senior political analyst Marwan Bishara dismissed the speeches by leaders addressing the Security Council, noting the lack of recommended actions.
“We all know who the elephant was in the room, we all know who is behind instigating this annexation … did anyone point the finger at the United States?” Bishara asked.
“The reason this meeting was called is to send a message, that we are in dangerous territory … But UNSC members and members of the Arab League are expected to take a firmer stand.”
While the United States was expected to give Netanyahu the official green light for his plan, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that extending Israeli sovereignty was a decision “that the Israelis must take.”
His comments came when the US ambassador. USA Before the UN, Kelly Craft told the council: “I understand that many of you have concerns with this issue of the possible extension of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank … At the same time, we ask that also the Palestinian leadership responsible for the acts for which they are responsible. “
Launched in late January, the so-called “Middle East plan” of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, which strongly favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians, gives the green light to Israel to annex Israeli settlements and strategic areas of Occupied west bank.
West Bank – even busy East Jerusalem that Palestinian leaders want as the capital of their future state, is seen as occupied territory under international law, making all Jewish settlements there, as well as planned annexation, illegal.
Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if carried out with such a move.
Trump’s plan envisages the eventual creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state in the remaining mosaic of disjointed parts of the Palestinian territories without East Jerusalem.
The US administration refused to criticize the annexation and rejected the consensus of most of the world that Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal.
“Decisions about Israelis that extend sovereignty to those places are decisions that must be made by Israelis,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, criticized the Palestinians and said the stalemate was due to their refusal to negotiate.
“Some members of the international community choose to reward the rejection of the Palestinians and ignore the reality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Guterres called on the Quartet of Middle East Mediators, the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN, “to take up our mandatory mediation role and find a mutually acceptable framework for the parties to re-engage, without preconditions, with us and other key states. “
Palestinians protested against possible movement in the occupied territories this week, including the besieged Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from a protest in the Jordan Valley on Wednesday, said senior Palestinian officials were expected to begin meeting in a “symbolic” movement to highlight that this is “Palestinian land.”
While Palestinians on the street have no faith in the international community, Palestinian officials are committed to peacefully ending the Israeli occupation, Ibrahim said.
Anger has also increased among Palestinians following the deadly shooting of two Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. this week.