UK threatened ‘obstructionist and rejectionist’ Israel with recognition of Palestinian state

Middle East Monitor  /  January 4, 2022

The UK threatened Israel with recognition of a Palestinian state if it annexed the occupied West Bank, a new book has revealed. The warning was issued in 2020, weeks before former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was about to move forward his controversial plan to formally annex the West Bank. The decision would have terminally ended the so called two-state solution backed by the international community.

UK Ambassador to the United Nations, Karen Elizabeth Pierce, issued the threat in a meeting with then-US president Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy, Avi Berkowitz, and Iran special envoy, Brian Hook, on 12 June, 2020, Israeli journalist, Barak Ravid, revealed in his new book, Trump’s Peace. Apparently, Pierce is said to have warned that other countries would follow suit if the Israelis went ahead with the plan.

The book claims that the American team was inundated with calls from world leaders warning the US against allowing Netanyahu to go forward with plans to begin annexing the West Bank. But it was the threat from the UK which surprised the Americans the most. Ravid speculated that there would have been a domino effect if the UK recognized a Palestinian state with countries in Europe, such as France and Spain, doing the same.

In May 2020, Netanyahu announced plans to annex 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank, in a move that would have derailed the so-called peace process. Under international law, the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip have been earmarked for a future Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as the capital. The territories, however, have been under de-facto Israeli control since 1967. Though Israel has not formally annexed the Palestinian territory, fearing international backlash, its occupation has been entrenched over the decades. It is now estimated that nearly a million Israelis live in Jewish only illegal settlements.

Simultaneously, Israel’s entrenchment of the occupation, saw a move to the far-right with the rejectionist camp that oppose Palestinian right to self-determination becoming the most dominant force. With next to zero chance that the Israelis will be able to relinquish the occupied territory, prominent human rights groups have concluded that it is practicing the crime of apartheid.

According to Ravid, Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is a major advocate of illegal Jewish only settlements, had encouraged the Netanyahu government to go ahead with annexation of the West Bank, without running the plan by Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Both are said to have been opposed to the idea.

It is claimed that the UAE offered a solution by suggesting a peace plan that would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for giving up formal annexation, which came to be known as the Abraham Accords.

In an interview with Israel’s i24NEWS Ravid also revealed details of his meeting with Trump. Ravid claims that Trump blames the Israelis for failing to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians, who the former US President says were more forthcoming. When asked why he made so many concessions to the Israelis if that was his view, Trump said he was told by his staff and, for a long time, it was believed that it was the Israelis that wanted peace and the Palestinians were “obstructionist and rejectionist.” But, during his time in office, he had come to realize that that was not the case, and it was the Israelis that did not want to have any deal with the Palestinians, said Trump.