Britain ‘concerned’ about rumours of Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank

Jack Dutton

The National  /  January 31, 2020

Donald Trump’s peace proposal poses key strategic tests for long standing policies on Palestine.

Britain says it is concerned by recent reports that suggest that Israel will move to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, recognised by the international community to be a Palestinian territory.

On Tuesday, after unveiling his long-delayed plan for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, US President Donald Trump produced a map that would see stretches of land Israel has long encroached on in the West Bank transferred within its borders.

There have been reports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could move as early as Sunday to bring annexation proposal to the cabinet for approval. These measures would be designed to impose its sovereignty to strategic swathes of the Jordan Valley and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, taking in up to 30 per cent of the Palestinian territory. In a statement on Friday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The United Kingdom is concerned by reports of possible moves toward annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel.

“Any such unilateral moves would be damaging to renewed efforts to re-start peace negotiations, and contrary to international law. Any changes to the status quo cannot be taken forward without an agreement negotiated by the parties themselves.”

Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, some Israeli leaders have wanted a permanent border for Israel along the Jordan river, a prospect that was partially embraced by the Trump administration.

Flanked by Mr Netanyahu in the White House on Tuesday when he announced the plan, Mr Trump said that Jerusalem would remain Israel’s “undivided capital”.

The 180-page plan would “more than double” the size of Palestinian territory in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, while meeting Israel’s security requirements, Mr Trump said.

But the Palestinians have rejected the plan as it appeared to favour Israel, and they have not engaged with the Trump administration since it declared Jerusalem the Israeli capital in December 2017.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt said Mr Trump’s deal should mark a starting point to reinvigorate stalled peace talks in the region.

Jack Dutton – journalist, London