Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s statement that he has ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel’s annexation of parts of occupied West Bank is a dangerous provocation.
Any such unilateral action by the occupation forces would represent a serious violation of international law and deal a devastating blow to international peace efforts and the two-State solution.
The United Nations has already warned that such a move by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government would stifle financial and aid flows to the Palestinians and most likely trigger conflict.
Indications that Israel may start the annexation process as soon as July 1 is a matter that needs to be sternly addressed by the international community.
The UN warning that if annexation goes ahead, the achievements of the Palestinian government over the last quarter century will fade also deserves serious attention.
Israel has been flouting all norms and repeatedly snubbing the world community.
Earlier, Netanyahu announced plans to build thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers in occupied east Jerusalem in yet another dangerous provocation aimed at dealing a stern blow to the peace process.
Donald Trump’s plan unabashedly favours Israel and has rightly been rejected by the Palestinians.
It is biased in favour of Israel as it would allow the occupation forces to annex all settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.
It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem, and that too only if they meet nearly impossible conditions.
Adding to the concern, World Bank officials have cautioned that the Palestinian economy could shrink by as much as 11% in the coming year as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts yet another blow to the Palestinian Authority’s already shaky finances.
The World Bank says the Palestinian economy grew by just 1% in 2019 and is projected to shrink by 7.6% to 11% in 2020, depending on the speed of the recovery and whether a second wave of infections forces a return of some restrictions.
As per Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank director for the West Bank and Gaza, though the Palestinian Authority has acted early and decisively to save lives, several years of declining donor support and the limited economic instruments available have turned the ability of the government to protect livelihoods into a monumental task.
The Palestinian Authority imposed sweeping measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak in March and April. It succeeded in limiting the total number of cases to fewer than 400, with just two fatalities.
But the closures hurt a local economy already weakened by decades of military occupation, a recent financial dispute with Israel and President Donald Trump’s suspension of nearly all aid to the Palestinians.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki is correct in stating that annexation plan is tantamount to an act of aggression. “This is really a declaration of war against Palestinian aspirations.”
The fact remains that attempts by the Israeli government to impose sovereignty on parts of the occupied West Bank are unacceptable to the world community.
As Dr Anwar Bin Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs mentioned clearly on Twitter: “Continued Israeli talk of annexing Palestinian lands must stop. Any unilateral Israeli move will be a serious setback for the peace process, undermine Palestinian self-determination & constitute a rejection of the international & Arab consensus towards stability & peace.”
The shipment is due to be brought by a PA delegate into the occupied West Bank through Jordan, the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the import had been approved by Israel’s health ministry.
Coronavirus has given Zionism a victory over democracy in the battle for Israel’s identity. The election of opposition Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz as interim speaker of parliament has led to cabinet formation negotiations with arch Zionist Binyamin Netanyahu.
Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel frontier on Friday as the territory’s Hamas rulers resumed the regular protests after a three-week pause.
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