Pressure grows in UK for ‘consequences’ to Israeli West Bank annexation

Recent protests in the West bank against Israel's plans to annex part of the occupied Palestinian territory. (AFP/FIle)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Pressure grows in UK for ‘consequences’ to Israeli West Bank annexation

  • Political and civil society leaders urge total ban on imports from illegal settlements

LONDON: The British government is coming under increasing pressure to outline the “meaningful consequences” it will enact in response to Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Lisa Nandy, the opposition Labour Party’s foreign secretary, said the UK must ban imports of goods from illegal settlements if Israel moves forward with its plans.

The move, she said, would be a “major step” and require “courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show,” but “such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will “apply sovereignty” to 30 percent of the occupied West Bank as early as Wednesday, in a move widely seen as the final nail in the coffin for any future Palestinian state.




Lisa Nandy has called Israeli annexation of the West Bank a “shameful proposition.” (AFP/File)

In an interview with The Observer, Nandy said the proposal, “is an illegal act which will undermine the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and has serious implications for the stability of the Middle East.

“It is a shameful proposition to which the UK cannot be a silent witness,” she added.

She urged “concrete action,” including “a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements of the West Bank.”

Civil society groups have also implored the British government to take meaningful steps against Israel.

A Christian Aid spokesperson said the UK should formally recognise the state of Palestine and “end all trade with illegal settlements” in response to annexation.

A coalition of UK-based humanitarian, religious, development and human rights organisations will issue a statement Monday urging the government to outline “clearly and publicly, what actual, meaningful consequences will result if Israel proceeds with its illegal annexation plans.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month “strongly objected” to Israel’s plan and restated support for the two-state solution, but has thus far failed to outline clearly the steps the government will take in response to it.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan described the Israeli plan as a “dangerous escalation.”

Last week the UN and the Arab League called on Israel to drop the plan.


Eight monks catch virus at remote Greek Orthodox site

Updated 21 September 2020

Eight monks catch virus at remote Greek Orthodox site

  • Mount Athos, a 1,000-year-old site and one of the Orthodox Church’s most venerated places, has 20 monasteries and almost 1,700 monks
  • The community, known for its austere rules, is almost completely isolated in a mountainous nature reserve in the Macedonia region

ATHENS: Eight monks have tested positive for coronavirus and their monastery in a remote Orthodox Christian community in northern Greece has been quarantined, a Church official said on Monday.
One of the monks was taken to hospital in Thessaloniki in a serious condition, said the official who declined to be named.
It is not the first outbreak at the Mount Athos site — four monks tested positive in March after traveling to Britain but recovered quickly.
Mount Athos, a 1,000-year-old site and one of the Orthodox Church’s most venerated places, has 20 monasteries and almost 1,700 monks.
The community, known for its austere rules, is almost completely isolated in a mountainous nature reserve in the Macedonia region.
The country’s lockdown from March to May hit the Church hard, wrecking its Easter celebrations.
Church leaders disputed some of the science behind the confinement rules — agreeing to halt masses but refusing to ban communion.
Greece has so far registered 338 deaths and more than 15,000 infections from the virus.