Israel political figures launch Europe drive against annexation

(Majdi Mohammed - AP)

Middle East Monitor  /  May 19, 2020

Israel is in danger of becoming a global pariah and is destroying the last remnants of democracy in the country, warned a group of former Israeli Knesset (parliament) members in a letter to European leaders urging them to block the planned annexation of the occupied West Bank.

The letter, which is a pan-European initiative against the 1 July annexation, is led by Avraham Burg, a former Speaker of Knesset and head of the Jewish Agency.

Three other Israeli leaders have also backed the initiative: Professor Michael Ben-Yair, former Attorney General of Israel and acting Supreme Court Judge; Professor Naomi Chazan, former Member and Deputy Speaker of Knesset and Zehava Galon, former Member of Knesset and chair of Meretz Party.

MPs from across Europe are being urged in the letter seen by MEMO to sign a petition calling on the various foreign ministers of each country in the political block to oppose any further annexation of the West Bank; territory which they say “is practically and legally an essential part of any viable future Palestinian state.”

In their email to European lawmakers, the former Knesset members said they are “deeply worried” that Israel’s annexation will destroy any prospects for peace, cause regional instability, and undermine the rules-based global order.

“We are reaching out to you since it is unfortunately evident to us that we need support from Europe – as a like-minded friend and ally of Israel – to avoid this from happening and protect the common values of democracy and respect for international law on which our societies are built,” said Burg, who is amongst a small number of critical voices within Israel.

Burg is the author of “The Holocaust is over, we must rise from its ashes.” In the 2008 book he argues that the Jewish nation has been traumatised and has lost the ability to trust itself, its neighbours or the world around it. He claims that this is one of the causes for the growing nationalism and violence that are plaguing Israeli society.

The email urged MPs to penalise Israel. “European leaders, including EU High Representative Josep Borrell, have made clear that annexation must have consequences,” said Burg while suggesting that “a pan-European and cross-party initiative, signed by hundreds of Members of Parliament, would further carry significant weight.”

Such cross-border cooperation is needed, they said, in order to protect the democratic character of Israel.

US President Donald Trump has given Israel the green light to annex the occupied West Bank. He had also gone against international law and the global consensus by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

The planned annexation of the West Bank however has prompted the biggest backlash in Europe.