The chief of the Arab League has accused Israel of exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to make headway on illegal territorial gains.
Rabat – At the request of the Palestinian government, the Arab League is set to hold an urgent virtual meeting this Thursday, April 30, concerning Israel’s plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank in early July.
The members of the Arab League intend to strategize measures to provide political, legal, and financial support to Palestine’s leaders in confronting Israel’s annexation plans.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, agreed on April 21 to form a unity government to enable Israel to effectively respond to its COVID-19 crisis.
While the unity government is meant to focus on public health, Netanyahu used the deal to push forward with his annexation aspirations.
In a message to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week, Arab League chief Ahmed Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned Israel’s plans risk “igniting tension in the region,” accusing Israel of “exploiting the world’s preoccupation with the novel coronavirus to impose a new reality on the ground.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on April 22 that the decision to annex West Bank territory is up to the new unity government, as Netanyahu’s move is in line with the Trump administration’s vision for “peace in the Middle East.”
Trump’s plan to resolve the dispute between Israel and Palestine, dubbed the “deal of the century,” recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major illegal settlement blocs in the West Bank and touts Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel.
Palestine rejected the plan well before Trump revealed its details on January 28, saying it was an attempt to “finish off” the Palestinian cause. After its unveiling, the Arab League announced its official rejection of the deal on February 1.
The Arab League argued the unilateral plan does not meet the fundamental rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people and is at odds with international peace standards and UN resolutions, declaring that Arab states will not cooperate with its implementation.
Despite the resistance to Netanyahu’s aspirations and his pending charges of corruption and bribery, the formation of the Israeli unity government gave the sitting prime minister the impetus he needed to accelerate his annexation plans.
The UN and the EU have criticized the move, as have thousands of Israelis who took to the streets of Tel Aviv on April 25 to protest both the unity government and Netanyahu’s encroachment on the West Bank.
“The actions corrupting our democracy don’t stop at the Green Line,” tweeted the Peace Now movement. “We must prevent [the] Netanyahu-Gantz government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank!”
Live: Peace Now anti-annexation activists at the latest Black Flag pro-democracy protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The actions corrupting our democracy don’t stop at the Green Line. We must prevent Netanyahu-Gantz government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank! pic.twitter.com/dQE9LXqGDt
— Peace Now (@peacenowisrael) April 25, 2020