Palestinians rally as global opposition to Israeli annexation grows

Palestinians rally as global opposition to Israeli annexation grows

"Annexation would represent a violation of worldwide law", Johnson wrote, adding that it would also jeopardise "the progress that Israel has made in improving relationships with the Arab and Muslim world. If it does, the United Kingdom will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties".

The proposal calls for Israeli sovereignty over about 30 percent of the West Bank, land on which Israel has built settlements for decades, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state under strict conditions. In January the U.S. put forward a plan to bring up to a third of the West Bank under direct Israeli control and leave Palestinians with limited autonomy in pockets of the remaining land. Over decades, they've called for the world to stop Israel from placing hundreds of thousands of settlers in the West Bank, which is home to almost 3 million Palestinians.

Palestinians, who have rejected the Trump proposal, seek to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Over the past few years, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs have reported an increase in the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jewish settler-only roads that connect them with Israel.

However, the plan has attracted criticism from the worldwide community, which sees the settlements as illegal.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday, Mr Johnson described himself as "a passionate defender of Israel" but warned that annexation would represent a violation of worldwide law.

In exchange, land swaps along the Mediterranean and Egyptian border, part of a future Palestinian state, which is why opposition to the plan also comes from some Israeli settlers already in the West Bank.

They said the land Israel planned to annex was occupied under global law, and that occupation does not confer sovereignty.

A mask-clad Jewish woman prays while Israeli settlers gather on a hill next to the Palestinian town of Halhul north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday

Netanyahu has defended his annexation plan on both security and religious grounds and says the friendly Trump administration has provided a rare opportunity to redraw Israel's borders.

Earlier, an Israeli minister played down the likelihood of major moves to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank on July 1, the planned starting point for cabinet debate on the issue.

But beyond the global opposition, Netanyahu has encountered some resistance from his Blue and White governing partners.

In an article he penned for Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Johnson warned Israel on a proposed annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, urging for an "outcome that delivers justice for both Israelis and Palestinians".

Israel's defence minister and alternate prime minister Benny Gantz has said annexation must wait until the coronavirus crisis has been contained, amid a sharp spike in new Israeli and Palestinian cases.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also signed the letter, saying in a statement that "American taxpayers shouldn't be supporting policies that undermine our values and interests, in Israel, in Palestine, or anywhere". USA officials have said they don't want to move forward without both leaders in agreement.

The majority of them, however, are pressuring Netanyahu to follow through, launching a campaign titled, "You made a promise - keep it".

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