Israel’s annexation plans expected to spur new violence in West Bank

Palestinians gather in the West Bank city of Nablus on June 3 for a protest against Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Israel’s annexation plans expected to spur new violence in West Bank

  • Israeli media fears it may lead to outbreak of a military confrontation

NABLUS: With Israel planning to annex the West Bank, there are possibilities of a broad Palestinian confrontation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that may include a military confrontation.

This raises concerns about the Palestinians’ ability and willingness to fight a comprehensive confrontation that may lead to a “third intifada.”

Observers believe that Palestine is suffering from crises, most notably the ongoing internal division since the Hamas takeover of Gaza after bloody fighting with forces loyal to its rival Fatah in mid-2007, which may cease the outbreak of a new intifada.

Israeli Army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi on Wednesday warned his forces to prepare to deal with a possible escalation in the Palestinian areas.

According to Haaretz, Israeli political and military forces are busy with discussing expected scenarios in conjunction with the implementation of the decision to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and large parts of the WestBank.

Among these scenarios is cutting ties with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA), and large-scale confrontations in the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to the most dangerous scenario, which is the outbreak of a military confrontation, according to the Hebrew newspaper Israel Today.

Earlier this year, Israeli and within the peace plan producedformation of a joint committee map the areas of Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian territories American officials announced the by US President Donald Trump’s administration.

On May 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while taking his constitutional oath to the Knesset, said it was time to annex settlements in the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded by announcing that the PA has become dissolved from all agreements and understandings with the US and Israeli governments. This dissolution, he said, refers to all previous obligations, including those related to security.

A member of the Revolutionary Council of the Fatah, which is led by Abbas, Abdullah Abdullah, told Arab News that the political leadership took important decisions.

Abdullah added that the Palestinian people will be in harmony with its leadership if Israel implements its plan: “(It will be) 100 percent if there will be a broad confrontation.”

On the negative impact of the internal division on this confronta- tion, Abdullah said: “The leadership has removed the excuses of Hamas, including security coordination, and this is our battle and it must determine whether it will be part of the battle of dignity or will hinder it, but we will not wait for it and go our way.”

Iyad Al-Qara, a political colum- nist close to Hamas, said Israel has estimated that the West Bank is conducive to escalation, especially if the PA stops security coordination.

He added that implementation of the annexation plan may encourage armed security members to join the confrontation.

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

Updated 03 August 2020

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

  • Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir
  • Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions

CAIRO: Three key Nile basin countries on Monday resumed their negotiations to resolve a years-long dispute over the operation and filling of a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, officials said.
The talks came a day after tens of thousands of Ethiopians flooded the streets of their capital, Addis Ababa, in a government-backed rally to celebrate the first stage of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir.
Ethiopia’s announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt. Both Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir without reaching a deal among the Nile basin countries.
Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a major power exporter.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile River to supply its booming population of 100 million people with fresh water, asserts the dam poses an existential threat.
Sudan, between the two countries, says the project could endanger its own dams — though it stands to benefit from the Ethiopian dam, including having access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. The confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile near Khartoum forms the Nile River that then flows the length of Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea.
Irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia took part in Monday’s talks, which were held online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual meeting was also attended by officials from the African Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the regional block, said Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas. Officials from the US and the European Union were also in attendance, said Egypt’s irrigation ministry.
Technical and legal experts from the three countries would resume their negotiations based on reports presented by the AU and the three capitals following their talks in July, Abbas said. The three ministers would meet online again on Thursday, he added.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attributed the reservoir’s filling to the torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile — something that occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else.”
However, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohammed Abdel-Atty said the filling, without “consultations and coordination” with downstream countries, sent “negative indications that show Ethiopian unwillingness to reach a fair deal.”
Ethiopia’s irrigation ministry posted on its Facebook page that it would work to achieve a “fair and reasonable” use of the Blue Nile water.
Key sticking points remain, including how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, which Ethiopia rejects and insists on non-binding guidelines.