Britain would not support Israeli West Bank annexation, says minister

British Conservative MP James Cleverly arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain, July 24, 2019. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 May 2020

Britain would not support Israeli West Bank annexation, says minister

  • James Cleverly: Our long-standing position is that we do not support the annexation of parts of the West Bank, and ... doing so could make a sustainable two-state solution harder
  • France also urging European Union partners to consider threatening Israel with tough response if it goes ahead with a de facto annexation of parts of occupied West Bank

LONDON: Britain would not support an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank as it would make a two-state solution with the Palestinians more difficult to achieve, junior Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said on Monday.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said it is up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank.
But Cleverly told parliament: “Our long-standing position is that we do not support the annexation of parts of the West Bank, and ... doing so could make a sustainable two-state solution harder.”

Meanwhile, France is urging its European Union partners to consider threatening Israel with a tough response if it goes ahead with a de facto annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, three EU diplomats said.
Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg also want to discuss the possibility of punitive economic measures during a foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday, the diplomats told Reuters, though all member states would have to agree to any collective action.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said cabinet discussions will start in July over extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, as was mooted under US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.
Palestinians have expressed outrage at Israel’s plans to cement its hold further on land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war, territory they are seeking for a state.
The EU diplomats did not give details on what punitive measures EU member states might consider to try to dissuade Israel from making the move.
In terms of procedure, EU governments would need to ask the Commission and the EU foreign policy division, the EEAS, to draw up a list of options.
All 27 EU nations would need to agree to any EU response and Israel’s closest allies such as Hungary and the Czech Republic could still block even preparatory work.
An EU spokesman on Monday declined to comment on internal discussions but said: “annexation is contrary to international law and if annexation goes ahead, the EU will act accordingly.”
Israel has long been a part of the EU’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020, which was worth nearly €80 billion between 2014 and 2020, according to the European Commission.
The EU is also Israel’s top trading partner and Israel benefits from trade preferences with the world’s largest trading bloc.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in February Trump’s plan departed from “internationally agreed parameters.” Borrell said that steps to annex Palestinian territory, “if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.”
That is a view taken by France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland, according to EU diplomats.
“There is clearly a need to look at what annexation means in the context of international law and we do need to know our options,” said one senior EU diplomat involved in discussions.
“We also need to say what exactly the consequences of annexation would be, ideally as a way to stop any such move,” the diplomat said.
The Palestinians and many countries regard the West Bank settlements as illegal under the Geneva Conventions that bar settling on land captured in war. Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical and political connections to the land.


LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

Updated 40 min 4 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

DUBAI: Efforts to return life gradually back to some kind of normality in parts of the Middle East continue, as governments get ready to reopen borders and airlines take bookings for flights. 
Tunisia said it will open its sea, land and air borders on June 27 in the hope of rescuing its tourism industry as the coronavirus pandemic comes under control.
Emirates airline also announced that it was taking bookings for flights from Dubai to 12 Arab countries from the start of July. Emirates began operating scheduled flight services to nine destinations around the world from May 21, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s commercial complexes, hotels, cafes and museums reopened their doors to customers on Monday after closing for two-and-a-half months. 

June 2, Tuesday (GMT Times)

11:44 - Qatar has reported 1,826 coronavirus cases, raising total to 60,259.

11:28 -  Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease.

10:24 - Kuwait has confirmed 887 coronavirus cases and the recovery of 50 percent of total infected people.

10:22 - UAE has recorded 596 coronavirus cases and 388 recoveries.

09:43 - New reported cases of coronavirus are steadily declining in Western Europe, but not in Russia and Eastern Europe: World Health Organization spokeswoman said.

09:34 - Formula One has unveiled an eight-race schedule in Europe from July 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

09:32 - Iran has reported 64 coronavirus deaths, 3,117 cases, raising total infected people to 157,562 with 7,942 fatalities.

09:20 - The number of coronavirus deaths in Britain is close to 50,000, Reuters reported.

09:07 – Hong Kong will extend restrictions on foreign visitors by another three months and an eight-person limit on group gatherings by two weeks, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday.
Both measures were due to expire later in June.
Travellers to Hong Kong need to undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

08:45 – 12,739 people died from coronavirus in England and Wales as of May 22, the Office for National Statistics said.

08:16 – Senegal has postponed the restart of schools until further notice after several teachers tested positive for the new coronavirus, the education ministry said late on Monday.

07:51 – Russia has confirmed 8,863 coronavirus cases and 182 deaths in the past 24 hours.

07:02 – A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, state media reported Tuesday, becoming China's first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
07:00 Paris gets some of its pre-lockdown life back as cafes and restaurants partially reopen Tuesday.
06:51 – The global coronavirus death toll has topped 375,000, according to AFP tally.

06:45 – The first Rohingya refugee died from coronavirus in Bangladesh, an official said.

05:59Egypt has sanitized prisons and carried out tests on prisoners across the country after banning visits to help curb the spread of coronavirus, local daily Egypt Today reported.

05:50 – A cluster of nine coronavirus cases raised concerns in Hong Kong over renewed local transmission in a city that has been one of the most successful in keeping the pandemic under control. 

05:18 – The United States on Monday recorded 743 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, bringing its total to 105,099 since the global pandemic began.