Israel’s prime minister promised to annex the West Bank by July 1, a move deemed illegal under the Geneva Conventions.
Rabat – Benjamin Netanyahu, recently re-elected to his fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, is preparing for what many consider to be one of the most controversial and taboo political acts of his time—stripping the occupied West Bank of its status as part of the Palestinian territory. King Abduallah II of Jordan yesterday issued a serious warning against the plan.
“If Israel really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” King Abdullah said in an interview with Der Spiegel.
The monarch noted Jordan’s agreement with many European countries regarding the illegal nature of the annexation and said it would threaten Jordan’s monarchy. With Jordan under a peace treaty with Israel, Middle Eastern scholars caution against ignoring King Abdullah II’s warning.
“When the king himself comes out and essentially puts his relationship with Israel and the treaty with Israel on the line, it’s very serious,” Khalid Elgindy from the Middle East Institute told Al Jazeera.
Last year, Netanyahu announced the groundwork of his plan, describing the circumstances of government restructuring and strong US support as opportune to carry out annexation. “We haven’t had this kind of opportunity since the six-day war, and may not have it again for another 50 years.” He referred to the 1967 war which resulted in Israeli occupation.
Netanyahu and his unity government partner Benny Gantz agreed to carry out the annexation, a move that Palestinian supporters say would further fragment the Palesntian state and diminish the possibility of a two-state solution.
“Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean,” King Abdullah said.
The monarch added that annexing the land would only lead to “more chaos and extremism in the region.”
With US backing, peace treaties are under threat
The United States has readily supported the forcible acquisition of state territory under Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which includes Israel’s annexation over approximately one third of the West Bank.
Palestinians and significant actors in the international community have rejected Trump’s controversial proposal, deeming it non-compliant with international law.
Under annexation, Palestinians fear inequity and threats to their livelihoods, culture, and spiritual practices. If Israel does keep its promise, it is unclear which rights would be afforded to the 300,000 Palestinians currently living in the West Bank. Many raise concerns regarding the potential denial of citizenship, confiscation of personal land, and end to voting rights.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abass stated that annexation would lead Palestine to sever all peace agreements with the US and Israel.
The European Union has prepared to take measures against the state of Israel, and member countries have stressed their support for a two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We reaffirm our position in support of a negotiated, two-state solution. For this to be possible, unilateral action from either side should be avoided and, for sure, international law should be upheld,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Borrell added that the EU would be diligent in its efforts to prevent unilateral action from the Israeli state.
Some point to the international community’s preoccupation with the COVID-19 crisis as Israel’s perfect opportunity to furtively seize the desired territory.