UK PM Boris Johnson warns Netanyahu annexation of West Bank parts would violate international law

British PM Boris Johnson on Wednesday urged Israel not to plough ahead with plans to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, warning PM Benjamin Netanyahu that the UK wouldn’t “recognize any changes to the 1967 lines,” RT reported.

Although on Tuesday, Netanyahu hinted that annexation will not begin by July 1st as coalition leader of the Blue and White party who is also the Defense Minister, Benny Gantz said “whatever isn’t connected to the fight against the coronavirus can wait,” appearing to urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to put off his pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank this week.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot on Wednesday, British PM Johnson made his plea on the day Netanyahu had marked as the earliest date to establish sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.

Describing himself as a “passionate defender of Israel,” Johnson revealed that he had followed proposals to annex occupied Palestinian territory “with sadness,” and warned that if carried out, it would “represent a violation of international law.” I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead. If it does, the UK will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties.

The Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel and its Arab neighbours saw Israelis capture significant territorial gains in the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal.

The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace deal with Israel.

Johnson insisted that the UK had often been in a small minority of countries at the UN in “defending Israel against unwarranted and wholly disproportionate criticism,” claiming annexation would be a “gift” to those that sought to “perpetuate old stories” about the Israeli state.

“There is another way,” Johnson urged, pushing for the resumption of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. He conceded that there are huge challenges standing in the way of a lasting peace settlement between the two sides, but stressed a solution needed to be found “that allows for justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

In words that may raise eyebrows among Palestinians around the world, the UK prime minister said that he welcomes the “commitment” that US President Donald Trump has shown in trying to find a way forward.

Trump’s 180-page ‘deal of the century’, officially known as the ‘Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People’ bill – published in January – put forward proposals that were widely seen as benefiting Israelis with Palestinian factions denouncing it as dead on arrival.

Both the UN and the EU have condemned Israel’s annexation plans. In recent days, the UN’s top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, has warned that the move would undermine peace efforts, saying: “even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life,” while Brussels has previously claimed it “would constitute a serious violation of international law.”

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