A number of British politicians have called for sanctions against Israel if it goes ahead with its plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, emphasizing that the move is illegal under international law.
In a letter organized by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) on Friday, 127 current and former MPs from across the political spectrum expressed their outrage at Israel’s West Bank annexation plan.
They urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make it clear that annexation is illegal under international law and “will have severe consequences including sanctions”.
“International law is crystal clear. The acquisition of territory through war is prohibited,” the letter said.
This came after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu set July 1st for the start of cabinet discussions on extending Israeli appropriation to settlements in the West Bank and annexing the Jordan Valley.
The letter by the British politicians described annexing West Bank as a “mortal blow” to peace efforts and the so-called two-state solution.
Israel, they also said, is taking advantage of the spread of the new coronavirus to “implement this egregious plan”.
Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized by the international community.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
But Israel’s aggressive settlement expansion and annexation plans have dealt a perennial blow to any prospects of peace.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged to annex all the Palestinian territories on which Israeli settlements are built in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli prime minister has voiced confidence that the United States would give Tel Aviv the nod to move ahead with the annexation of the occupied West Bank.
The European Union and the United Nations have already denounced the plan.
In a joint statement last year, the UK government, together with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, warned that Israel’s annexation plans constituted “a serious breach of international law.”
The letter by the British politicians on Friday said the international community is “duty-bound” to protect Palestinians under the occupation.
“If we are to prevent other states with territorial ambitions from copying Israeli illegal behavior, the UK must take a lead in standing up to this aggression,” it said.
Signatories included Lord Chris Patten, the former chair of the Conservative Party; Sir Edward Davey, the leader of Liberal Democrats, and Baroness Helena Kennedy.