Israel-Palestine: taking action to prevent further annexation

23/06/2020
Press release
ar en fr

This article was published on the website of the French media Libération

From 1 July, the Israeli government wants to annex a new part of the West Bank. This unilateral decision is illegal under international law and France and the European Union must act against it. We, NGOs for the defence of human rights, international solidarity, popular education and trade union organisations, demand from our representative’s political courage and restrictive measures commensurate with the seriousness of this threat.

A campaign argument of Benyamin Netanyahu for several years, the formal and unilateral annexation of a large part of the occupied West Bank now seems imminent. This flagrant violation of international law sounds the death knell for the two-State solution and bury the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination under the passive eyes of the international community. In addition to worsening the human rights situation of hundreds of thousands of people, Israeli annexation represents a dangerous precedent for international relations in the direct European neighbourhood.

France, the EU, and other member states have so far been content to warn the Israeli authorities, but without results. The Israeli Prime Minister, assisted by his new ally Benny Gantz and reinforced by the "Trump Plan", is determined to see his "Greater Israel" project through to completion. Already in 2018, the "Law on the Jewish Nation State" had institutionalized the discriminatory status of the Palestinians and considered "the development of Jewish settlements as a national value", with the will to act "to encourage and promote their creation and strengthening", thus preparing for annexation.

Colonization is accelerating

While de facto annexation has already been in progress for many years through the continued seizure of Palestinian land, forced transfers, the strengthening of the settlements’ network and the progressive incorporation of Israeli law into the occupied territories, de jure annexation will considerably accentuate these human rights violations. Settlement activity is already accelerating on the ground and formal annexation would only reinforce this. The example of East Jerusalem annexed by law in 1980 is evocative: in the space of twenty years, the population of Israeli settlers has doubled.

Nearly 150 Palestinian villages with 140,000 inhabitants could be included in the annexed areas, making them even more vulnerable to forced transfers, expropriation and land grabbing. This policy began several years ago with the creation of a coercive environment where demolitions, denial of access to basic services and settler violence are legion.

Finally, access to the annexed areas will be further restricted by new checkpoints and bypass roads, further limiting the freedom of movement of Palestinians. NGOs on the ground are also concerned about the increased clashes and violence that the final annexation could provoke between the Israeli army, settlers and Palestinians.

The two-state solution

While France and the EU support the two-state solution, Palestinian and Israeli, living side by side within secure and recognised borders, annexation - both de facto and future formal annexation - is a fatal obstacle to this solution. France and the EU have clear international legal obligations to put an end to this illegal fact and the responsibility to preserve, in accordance with their current policy, the two-state solution. Their international credibility is also at stake.
France, faithful to its commitment to human rights and a leader within the EU, has several levers at its disposal to enact restrictive measures that are proportional to the gravity of the annexation and that would have the necessary weight to stop it. It must also push for the Israeli Government to be collectively sanctioned if formal annexation takes place, in the same way as the sanctions taken against Russia after the annexation of the Crimea.

In the absence of a European consensus, we expect France to have the political courage to enact measures at the national and bilateral levels. The time has come to recognize the State of Palestine, in accordance with the parameters defined by the Oslo agreements put forward by France and Europe.

It is also time to comply with the obligation not to contribute to the development of Israeli settlements, and thus to exclude products from the settlements from the French market, to exclude the settlements from the scope of bilateral treaties and to actively dissuade companies from having trade and investment relations with the settlements. The stakes are too high to take a cautious, wait-and-see approach. Our political leaders have an obligation to act, and they must act now.

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  • Co-signatories

    l’association des Universitaires pour le respect du droit international en Palestine (AURDIP), l’association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), l’association Pour Jérusalem, l’association pour le Jumelage entre les camps de réfugiés palestiniens et les villes françaises (AJPF), Avaaz, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, CFDT-Confédération française démocratique du travail, CGT-Confédération générale du travail, collectif Judéo arabe et citoyen pour la Palestine, comité de vigilance pour une Paix réelle au Proche-Orient (CVPR-PO), Crid-Centre de recherche et d’information pour le développement, Enfance Réseau Monde/Services (ERM-S), fédération des Tunisiens pour une citoyenneté des deux rives (FTCR), FIDH-Fédération internationale pour les droits humains, dont ses membres Al Haq, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Cairo Institute dor Human Rights Studies, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, FSU-Fédération Syndicale Unitaire, Générations solidaires, groupe d’amitié islamo chrétienne (GAIC), la Cimade, la Ligue de l’enseignement, la Ligue des droits de l’Homme, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP), Mouvement de la paix, Mouvement international de la réconciliation-France, Mouvement pour une alternative non-violente (MAN), One Justice, Pax Christi France, Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine, Première urgence internationale, REF-Réseau Euromed France, Association démocratique des Tunisiens en France (ADTF), ritimo, Solidarité laïque, Union des Tunisiens pour l’action citoyenne (Utac), l’Union juive française pour la paix (UJFP); l’Union syndicale Solidaires, Zembra Echo.

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