Gantz tells Trump aides that fighting coronavirus is more important than annexation

29 Juin, 2020, 20:42 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that

Though he is seen as reluctant to move forward with unilateral annexation, he has agreed to allow Netanyahu to advance such a plan after July 1 if he can secure a Knesset majority.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition partner Benny Gantz has appeared to play down the prospect of annexing parts of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley on 1 July, telling a USA envoy that annexation will have to wait while the country deals with a surge in coronavirus cases.

Israel's aim to annex parts of the occupied West Bank is clearly "illegal", the United Nations' human rights chief said on Monday, warning that the consequences could be "disastrous".

"Annexation is illegal. Period", the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement. The plan has also come under surprising criticism from West Bank settler leaders, who believe it does not go far enough and say that any plan that envisions even a watered-down Palestinian state must be opposed.

"Dealing with the coronavirus and its socioeconomic and health consequences is the more pressing issue that needs to be attended to right now", he said.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has built dozens of settlements that are now home to nearly 500,000 Israelis, though it has never formally claimed the areas as Israeli territory amid stiff worldwide opposition. "But they are likely to be disastrous for the Palestinians, for Israel itself, and for the wider region".

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"The shockwaves of annexation will last for decades, and will be extremely damaging to Israel, as well as to the Palestinians", Bachelet warned. Furthermore, Palestinians living within the annexed territory would face additional challenges in accessing education, healthcare and humanitarian assistance.

Bachelet's office warned that Palestinians inside the annexed area would come under heavy pressure to move out, pointing out that entire communities now not recognised under Israeli planning would be at high risk of "forcible transfer".

He also called on the European Union to "deepen its policy of differentiating between Israel and the settlements across the entire scope of EU-Israel relations" and urged it to "insist that Israel honour its obligations under worldwide law and end the Gaza blockade, while taking the necessary steps to enhance Gaza's economy".

But in her statement, Bachelet warned that even a small annexation would create a "highly combustible mix".

"Instead, it will grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution, undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations, and perpetuate the serious existing human rights and worldwide humanitarian law violations we witness today".

The remarks, which the source said Gantz made during a meeting with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and White House adviser Avi Berkowitz, threw doubt on prospects for a unified Israeli approach to President Donald Trump's peace plan. The French government has warned of a possible "reprisal" against Israel if it goes ahead with the move.

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