Linking together for human rights

Annexation July 2020

Since it began, Israel has been expanding further on to Palestinian land, dispossessing and ignoring the rigtrumphts of the Palestinian people.  Following the encouragement of the US under Trump, Israel is now planning to annexe large parts of the West Bank on 1st July.  This needs to be opposed as a clear violation of Palestinians’ human rights and international humanitarian law.

What is the issue?

Following the encouragement of US President Trump and his ‘Deal of the Century’ plan issued earlier this year with no input at all from the Palestinians, the Israeli government is planning to annexe large parts of the West Bank, formally claiming that they are part of Israel. This will be the Jordan Valley in the east, the areas where Israel has built settlements and big areas of land where they intend to build new settlements.

1st July 2020 has been given as the formal date for annexation.  Already, new roads, new settlements, new Israeli-only bridges over the Separation Wall are being built.

Background

Each time Israel has gained land, it has pushed to take more. Palestine was divided in 1948 and Israel was declared as a state on 78% of the land.  It was already taking more of the land than the UN had suggested it would have in a partition plan of 1947.  (Much of the international community has now forgotten that under the UN division, Jerusalem and the area around it would be international areas, for example).

Palestinians were not given control of any of it: part (the ‘West Bank’ and East Jerusalem) was controlled by Jordan for a while, and part (becoming ‘Gaza Strip’) controlled by Egypt. But this was for less than 20 years.

In 1967, Israel took over the remaining areas of Palestine (as well as the Golan Heights from Syria and Sinai from Egypt, for some years).  Israel immediately annexed Jerusalem, making its Palestinian citizens into ‘residents’ but never giving them the status of citizens and increasingly exerting pressure on them to leave the city, using revoking residency as a tool.

At the time, Israel did not annexe the West Bank; but they chose to ignore the demands of the United Nations and the international community to leave the areas and have taken over more and more of it. The maps above show the shrinking areas left to Palestinians, and the third one is Trump’s map: he and his advisors seem to think that all they need to leave the Palestinians, having given the rest of Palestine to Israel, is a tiny collection of bits of land, often joined together only by tunnels.

Israel has systematically ignored the human rights of the Palestinian people, keeping them  under harsh military control and defying the Geneva Conventions (international humanitarian law) by changing the infrastructure of occupied land, particularly after the Oslo Accords in 1993.  Israel has built more and more Israeli settlements, settler-only roads and infrastructure in the West Bank and moved hundreds of thousands of  Israeli settlers into the West Bank, giving them civilian status and civilian rights, while the Palestinians were governed quite separately under military law.

The inequalities are stark on every level. Israel has been building an apartheid system that Black South Africans have often said is worse than the apartheid that they suffered there.

 Annexation – End of two illusions?

For many years, much of the international community has pinned its hopes on there eventually being a Palestinian state next to an Israeli one (the ‘two-state solution’) although Israel has given no indication that it intended to leave the West Bank and has worked hard and fast to change its infrastructure, subsidising and encouraging Israeli citizens to move into the area. (It has pulled out of Gaza while continuing to entrap and control the lives of the Palestinian people there).

Only 22% of Palestinian land was left by the original declaration of Israel;  Israel has steadily taken over more and more and the annexation will firm up their removal of most of the rest. The only way a two-state solution could be achieved would be in name only, as the Palestinians will be left only with the main population centres, surrounded by walls, no-go areas and tunnels and military checkpoints if they want to go from one part to another.

End of an illusion too for those who believed (as some in the West) that Israel was a democratic state. This idea always ignored the rights of Palestinians who have been controlled for generations by Israel with no voice in the government that was in charge.

What is wrong?

Taking away almost all of Palestine is entrenching apartheid and its cruelty, trampling further on the rights of Palestinians and breaking international law.

Israel is not planning to give the Palestinians equal rights or a vote; this annexation will cement in the apartheid inequalities already created by the Israeli occupation.

Small amounts of land will be left to the Palestinians, and the comparison to the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa (puppet states for Black people that did not change or challenge white control) are irresistible.

We call on our representatives to make to take a clear stand based on human rights and respect for international humanitarian law and make it clear both to Israel and to the United States that Israeli annexation in the West Bank is not acceptable