Elderly Palestinian man raises Palestinian flag in the presence of Israeli soldiers during an anti-annexation demonstration in West Bank. June 5, 2020. (Reuters photo by Mohamad Torokman)
The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, has called on European leaders to maintain their resolve against Israel’s plans to annex swathes of the West Bank, and to insist that any such moves would have negative political and economic consequences for bilateral relations.
The group said that the absence of any direct military and legal moves towards annexation on 1 July – the deadline unilaterally declared by Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu – should not be taken as grounds for complacency.
Annexation of any part of the West Bank, including illegal settlement blocs, would constitute a flagrant breach of international law, it added.
In letters to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, The Elders underscored the damage annexation would cause not only to any hopes of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also to global respect for the rule of law.
Annexation “is fundamentally contrary to the long term interests of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples. [It] will not dampen future Palestinian demands for rights and self-determination, but destroying hopes in a two-state compromise will increase the risks of future violence in one of the most combustible areas in the world”, the Elders warned in their appeal to Europe’s leaders.
They called on the EU leaders to consider suspending the bloc’s Association Agreement with Israel if annexation does go ahead in any form, and recalled the UK’s historical and abiding responsibility to the region as the colonial Mandate holder in pre-1948 Palestine.
The Elders also reiterated their support for human rights defenders and civil society activists in Israel and Palestine, whose voices need to be protected and amplified at this challenging time.