British MPs demand UK sanctions over Israel’s West Bank annexation plan

British MPs demand UK sanctions over Israel’s West Bank annexation plan
A Palestinian protester from al-Sawiyah village south of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank reacts as he is prevented by Israeli soldiers from accessing his lands on May 2, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 May 2020

British MPs demand UK sanctions over Israel’s West Bank annexation plan

British MPs demand UK sanctions over Israel’s West Bank annexation plan
  • 127 politicians from across political spectrum express ‘outrage’ over ‘serious breach of international law’

LONDON: British politicians from across the political spectrum have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding that the government make clear its intention to impose sanctions on Israel if it presses ahead with plans to annex occupied Palestinian territory.

It comes in the wake of a coalition government agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz, which is set to propose legislation approving the annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank, a key electoral pledge of Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The 127 members of the UK Parliament and House of Lords who signed the letter expressed their “outrage” at the new Israeli government’s annexation plan.

The letter said such a move would prove a “mortal blow to chances of peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on any viable two-state solution,” and would be “a serious breach of international law.”

The signatories include former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Menzies Campbell, former Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott MP, former Conservative Party chairs Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Lord Chris Patten, and Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.

FASTFACT

West Bank-Crimea comparisons

The British leaders said not sanctioning Israel in such an event would contradict the precedent set in the UK’s sanctioning of Russia in the wake of its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

They said not sanctioning Israel in such an event would contradict the precedent set in the UK’s sanctioning of Russia in the wake of its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

That, they said, was a “recent example where Britain quite properly opposed such acts with appropriate measures, including robust sanctions.”

The letter added: “If we are to prevent other states with territorial ambitions from copying Israeli illegal behavior, the UK must take a lead in standing up to this aggression.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has ignored our words. We need to prevent his government from setting this alarmingly dangerous precedent in international relations.”

The letter was organized by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), which called the breadth of feeling across the UK’s political spectrum on the issue “unprecedented.”

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, meanwhile, has written a separate letter to her government counterpart Dominic Raab, asking him to publicly state his opposition to the annexation plan.

CAABU said in a statement: “Politicians including former cabinet members, ministers and senior diplomats, demanded actions not words in opposing any Israeli annexation.”

Its Director Chris Doyle added: “Sanctions should not be entered into lightly but such an action would more than warrant it, just as we did with Russia over Crimea. For too long we have stood and watched as Israel violated Palestinian human rights.”

CAABU Chairman David Jones MP said: “I am sure the (UK) government understands just how serious a breach of international law any Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory would be. As this letter shows, it would have widespread support to hold Israel account should it cross this line.  

“Sadly this will probably require more than words; but such a violation of the rule of law cannot go unchallenged. I hope Israeli leaders will think twice before such a drastic decision, which would irrevocably destroy the chances of a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.” 

The EU strongly condemned Israel’s annexation plan at a UN meeting in April.