Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday presented his plans to annex the illegally occupied West Bank to coalition partner and Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz, according to local media reports.
The Haaretz newspaper reported that Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, a member of the PM’s Likud party, met Gantz and Foreign Affairs Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, both from Kahol Lavan or the Blue and White alliance, to discuss possible scenarios for annexation of the occupied West Bank.
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The Israeli PM reportedly suggested scenarios that ranged from taking a “purely symbolic step” to annexation of up to 30 percent of the territory – a move Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s foreign minister, were not receptive to, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war and has built dozens of settlements that are now home to nearly 500,000 Israelis.
The Palestinians seek the territory as the heartland of their future state. Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal under international law.
Israel’s announcement to annex the occupied West Bank has been roundly scrutinised across the globe, including from Middle East and European nations.
On Tuesday, UN human rights experts said Israel’s plan would violate international law banning the taking of territory by force, and urged other countries to actively oppose it.
A joint statement, signed by nearly 50 independent experts, voiced dismay at US support for Netanyahu’s “unlawful” plan for de facto annexation of land the Palestinians seek for a state.
“The annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible,” it said.
I assured King Abdullah in our phone conversation of UAE's full solidarity with Jordan & our categorical rejection of accepting Israel's illegal annexation of Palestinian lands. We are working with our Arab brethren & the international community against this illegal move.
— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) June 17, 2020
Israel has cultivated close, but clandestine, ties with several Arab states, including the UAE, because of their shared concern about Iran.
Last Friday, Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, published an editorial in a leading Israeli newspaper warning that annexation of occupied territory would “upend” Israel’s efforts to improve ties with Arab countries.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said any attempt to annex the West Bank would be a “breach of international law”.