U-turn for Israel's West Bank annexation plan

U-turn for Israel’s West Bank annexation plan

Monitoring Desk

JERUSALEM: The United Arab Emirates said Thursday that Israel had agreed to abandon plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in exchange for normalised relations.

US President Donald Trump s original plan in January had given the green light for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank territory and Jewish settlements there that are considered illegal under international law.

For now, annexation appears to be on ice — the US, Israeli and UAE leaders said they had agreed “Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty” over Palestinian West Bank areas.

Netanyahu, for his part, stressed he had only agreed to delay annexation, that in the long term the plans remained “on the table” and that he would “never give up our rights to our land”.

Trump, a staunch supporter of Israel, had first tapped his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to forge a Middle East peace plan.

Trump unveiled it in Washington on January 28, 2020, alongside his ally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hailed it as a “realistic path to a durable peace”.

It gave the Jewish state a US green light to annex areas including the Jordan Valley, a strategic strip along the Jordanian border, as well as some 130 Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Under the plan Jerusalem was to be Israel s “undivided” capital, and economic aid would flow to the Palestinians, who would get their own state.

“My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel s security,” Trump said at the time.

Israel seized control of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967 and has occupied it ever since.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements constructed in the territory, which Palestinians regard as the mainstay of their future state.

The day after Trump s announcement, protests flared in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli security forces in the West Bank.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh charged that annexation “means ending the two-state solution and the dismantling of the rights of the people of Palestine”.

It would also have left the ancient town of Jericho enclaved, surrounded by a sea of Israeli-annexed territory. Under the Oslo Middle East peace accords of the 1990s, Jericho is under Palestinian self-rule.

President Mahmud Abbas threatened to rip up all agreements with Israel.

The UN special envoy said that annexation would “constitute a serious violation of international law (and) deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution”.

Apart from the US, no country had publicly backed the annexation plans.

Courtesy: (AFP)

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