Amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict that has brought huge sufferings to both the sides, the annexation of West Bank has become the new incantation of the Israeli politicians. The area, already captured by the country during 1967, is known for reckless violence and war crimes committed by Israeli forces. The Israeli law has been applied to settlements throughout the West Bank although the US that has long been acting as a mediator to solve the conflict, has cautioned against the unilateral annexation of the territory.
Though the West Bank is internationally recognized as being held under military occupation by Israel, there are nearly 200 Israeli settlements in the region. Israeli annexation of the area would itself raise questions on the government policies, besides violating multiple principles i.e. territorial integrity, a two-state solution, democratic deficit.
On Sunday, the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman warned Israeli politicians against voting to annex parts of the West Bank that are sites of Israeli settlements. The move by the Israeli politicians, if continued, would have completely demolished Trump’s Middle East Peace plan, meant to resolve the conflicts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The peace plan, authored by a team led by Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner for almost three years, has been widely rejected by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a biased one. Abbas even announced to cut ties with both Israel and Palestine. As the peace plan sparked violent protests in Palestinian areas such as West Bank, the critics believe it to be one big reason behind Israeli politicians proposing the annexation of that area.
The aim through the peace plan was to settle the border issue for once and for all. It would allow the Israeli government to annex land currently home to Israeli settlements on Palestinian-claimed territory, while allowing Palestinian authorities to exert limited control over areas of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and east Jerusalem, providing a path to economic wealth for citizens.
The president’s announcement of the peace plan in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been dismissed by both the Iranian and Palestinian officials. Meanwhile, many European, Asian and Middle Eastern countries have expressed their support to the plan.
Expressing concerns over Israel’s annexation of West Bank, David Friedman wrote, “President Trump’s Vision for Peace is the product of more than three years of close consultations among the President, PM Netanyahu and their respective senior staff. As we have stated, the application of Israeli law to the territory which the Plan provides to be part of Israel is subject to the completion a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee.”
“Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the Plan & American recognition,” Fried added. In 2019, a similar announcement was made by Netanyahu, to annex the Jordan Valley that lies on the West Bank, although the ongoing political deadlock in the country saved the trouble and aggravation that could have been brought with the annexation. So does that mean the political crisis, once again, could become a good way to stop the West Bank annexation?