Next week, Israel may well decide to make a further formal annexation of occupied territory following the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 and the Golan Heights in 1981. Annexation will mean yet more confiscation of Palestinian land, demolition of homes and restrictions on movement. It will deprive Palestinians of any chance of a meaningful fulfilment of their right to self-determination. Creeping annexation and a brutal occupation has already created so much misery for Palestinians living under such occupation, and formal annexation will further cement such devastation.
We urge you to write to your MP to push the government to challenge any such move, whether large or small, with concrete actions to deter what would be a grave breach of international law. You could also write to the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary as well as the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer to urge him to back such action.
- Find your MP's email here.
- Prime Minister: email@example.com
- Foreign Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Leader of the opposition: email@example.com
149 British parliamentarians have already written to the Prime Minister on 1 May 2020, calling for sanctions to be imposed on Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.
248 British parliamentarians were also among 1,080 parliamentarians from across Europe rejecting annexation and calling for "commensurate consequences."
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt challenged Boris Johnson on what the consequences of annexation would be, and whilst the Prime Minister said it would be "a breach of international law", he failed to say what action the UK would take.
The new Israeli Government has declared its determination to annex areas of territories it occupied in June 1967. This action is the key plank of the agreed Israeli coalition platform. It states that the Government can advance legislation on annexation after 1 July both in cabinet and in the Knesset.
Israel would transfer territory from being under 'belligerent occupation' to be part of the sovereign state of Israel and that Israeli law will replace military law. An annexation as outlined under the Trump plan would leave Palestinians with just 15% of mandatory Palestine, in disconnected areas - bantustans.
The UK has many options to challenge any form of Israeli annexation. It can take initial measures and follow them up with tougher ones in the event of Israeli non-compliance. To increase effectiveness this should be done with European partners. Condemnation and non-recognition of annexation are simply not enough to deter Israel, protect possibilities of peace or prevent possible clashes. The following options are ones that should have already been adopted not least to stop the illegal settlement project.
Deterrence and accountability options
- Ban all trade in Israeli settlement products and services - whilst supporting the UN's efforts to improve its database of companies involved in the settlement business.
- Ensure that in line with UN Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) that the UK does everything "to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967"
- Introduce a visa ban on Israeli settler leaders and settlers
- Suspend the UKFree Trade Agreement with Israel - with the EU suspending the EU-Israel Free Trade agreement. This would end all preferential access to the EU for Israeli products and services. (This is not a sanction but merely the removal of all trade preferences.)
- Support the International Criminal Court investigation into Israeli war crimes and grave breaches of international law
- Sanctions - Impose sanctions in conjunction with EU partners on the state of Israel. Such a sanctions regime could be tightened in the event of non-compliance. It should include a full arms embargo. A series of progressively imposed restrictive measures would echo how the EU including the UK, responded to Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimea in 2014. This included cancellations of summits; restrictions on individuals and asset freezes.
The UK should recognise an independent state of Palestine based on the 1967 lines with a capital in East Jerusalem. This is long overdue, should be done now, and would give meaning to UK long-standing support for two states- but recognition isnot a response to an illegal Israeli action. Palestinians deserve a state on merit and as a right to self-determination- not as a response to an Israeli violations of international law.
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