Thousands of Palestinians have staged a demonstration to express their resentment over Israel’s US-sponsored plot to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank.
The protest rally, which was organized by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), was held in the West Bank city of Jericho.
The event was attended by dozens of foreign diplomats, including the United Nations peace envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, the European Union’s representative, Sven Kuehn von Burgsdorff, as well as British, Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Jordanian diplomats.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he would commence cabinet-level discussions for annexing more areas in the West Bank on July 1.
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Under the plan, the regime would annex the areas upon which it has been building settlements in defiance of international law since their occupation in 1967, alongside the Jordan Valley. Over all, the areas that are subject to the scheme comprise some 30 percent of the West Bank.
Speaking at the rally, Mladenov warned that if the US-backed annexation plan went ahead, it could “kill” peace and Palestinian statehood.
“The UN believes annexation is against international law,” Mladenov said, stressing the world body’s long-held position.
“If it happens, it might kill the very idea that peace and statehood for the Palestinian people can be achieved through negotiations,” he added.
Mladenov urged Palestinians not to “lose sight of the goal of a free Palestinian state.”
According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, EU envoy Von Burgsdorff also said at the event that steps taken towards annexation would not pass unchallenged, adding that the 27-nation bloc — which has also rejected Trump’s plan — would continue to support a negotiation process towards the so-called two-state solution as the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties, this includes notably the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, the refugee questions, and of course security,” he said.
The event was held despite a ban on gatherings due to a surge in coronavirus infections.
Palestinian officials have allowed gatherings against the Israeli land grab bid to take place due to the importance of the issue, with more events planned in the coming days and weeks.
The annexation bid is in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s controversial plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump’s proposal, which has already been categorically rejected and condemned by Palestinians and many other world nations, largely gives in to Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders.