Palestinians rally as global opposition to Israeli annexation grows

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Palestinians use slingshots to throw back tear gas canisters at Israeli forces during clashes following a demonstration against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Ramallah, July 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Israeli policemen standby as demonstrators gather for a protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, in the Arab town of Arara in the Wadi Ara region of northern Israel, July 1, 2020. (AFP)
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A protester stands with a sign during a demonstration against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in the center of the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags as they gather for a protest against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, in the Arab town of Arara in the Wadi Ara region of northern Israel, July 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 01 July 2020

Palestinians rally as global opposition to Israeli annexation grows

  • Demonstrations were held in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jericho, attended by a handful of left-wing Israeli politicians opposed to annexation
  • France, Germany, several other European states and the United Nations all oppose annexation, as do the Gulf Arab states, with which Israel has increasingly sought warmer ties

JERUSALEM: Thousands of Palestinians protested Wednesday in Gaza against Israel’s West Bank annexation plans, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said talks were ongoing on the project, which faces intensifying international opposition.
Netanyahu’s center-right coalition government had set July 1 as the date from which it could begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
While no major announcement was expected on Israel’s self-imposed kick-off date, Netanyahu’s office said talks with US officials “on the application of sovereignty” were ongoing.
Netanyahu was also discussing annexation with his security chiefs, it added, saying “further discussions will be held in the coming days.”
In Gaza City, several thousand protesters gathered, some brandishing Palestinian flags and placards condemning Trump.
“The resistance must be revived,” Gaza protester Rafeeq Inaiah told AFP. “Israel is afraid of force.”

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Smaller demonstrations were held in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jericho, attended by a handful of left-wing Israeli politicians opposed to annexation.
“We want to affirm our support for peace,” former Labour party official Ophir Pines-Paz told AFP.
The Trump plan, unveiled in January, offered a path for Israel to annex territory and Jewish West Bank settlements, considered illegal under international law.
Netanyahu supports the Trump plan, which has been roundly rejected by the Palestinians. But the veteran right-wing premier has not laid out how he intends to implement the US proposals.
Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, fired some 20 rockets from the coastal Palestinian enclave into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, a demonstration of force aimed at dissuading Israel from moving forward, Hamas sources told AFP.
The militant movement, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, was scheduled to hold a joint press conference Thursday in Ramallah alongside the West Bank’s ruling party Fatah.
Writing in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Wednesday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that although he was a “passionate defender of Israel,” he viewed annexation as “contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”
“Annexation would represent a violation of international law,” he said.
Australia, in a rare criticism of Israel, warned against “unilateral annexation or change in status of territory on the West Bank.”
France, Germany, several other European states and the United Nations all oppose annexation, as do the Gulf Arab states, with which Israel has increasingly sought warmer ties.
Germany’s parliament, however, passed a motion Wednesday warning against “unilateral sanctions or threats of sanctions” on Israel over annexation.
Such moves would “have no constructive effect” on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it said.
The EU cannot threaten sanctions against Israel without unanimous support among members.
Jordan, one of only two Arab nations that has diplomatic ties with Israel, has repeatedly warned against the move, saying annexation could trigger a “massive conflict.”
Israel’s defense minister and alternate prime minister Benny Gantz has said annexation must wait until the coronavirus crisis has been contained, amid a sharp spike in new Israeli and Palestinian cases.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem following the 1967 Six Day War and then the Golan Heights on the Syrian border in 1981, in moves never recognized by most of the international community.
While some settlers have urged Netanyahu to take similar action in the West Bank, some hard-liners oppose the Trump plan as it envisions the creation of a Palestinian state across roughly 70 percent of the West Bank.
“Trump’s plan is to establish a Palestinian state in the land of Israel while leaving the Jews with little crumbs,” Daniela Weiss, a settler movement leader, told AFP.
“This thing will not happen. We will not eat this bait. We will not fall into this trap.”
Despite the mounting headwinds, experts have stressed that Netanyahu may still move forward in the coming days, noting that he is keenly watching the US presidential election and may be eager to act if he fears Trump will not win a second term.
Presumptive US Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden is opposed to any unilateral annexations by Israel.


UAE, Israel discuss energy, infrastructure cooperation

Updated 24 September 2020

UAE, Israel discuss energy, infrastructure cooperation

  • They discussed possible investment opportunities in renewable energies

DUBAI/JERUSALEM: The energy ministers of the UAE and Israel discussed possible cooperation and investment opportunities, including natural gas exports to Europe, in a video call on Wednesday, Emirates state news agency WAM reported.
A statement said the two minster discussed possible investment opportunities in energy, infrastructure, oil, gas and renewable energy, as the UAE plans to the shift toward green energies.
During the call, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail Al-Mazroui “reviewed the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which is the first unified energy plan in the country that balances production and consumption aspects and global environmental obligations and ensures a comfortable economic environment for growth in all sectors.”
The two sides also focused on advanced technology companies in the field of energy and cybersecurity.
Israel and the UAE signed an agreement on Sept. 15 to establish diplomatic relations, an accord that Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in the statement presented a “historic opportunity” for energy development in the region.
“I spoke (with the UAE energy minister) on cooperating in linking power grids and developing the natural gas market for exports via pipeline to Europe ... as well as other projects,” an Israeli statement quoted Steinitz as saying.
The statement, released by Steinitz’s office, said he proposed the UAE join an Egypt-based energy forum that seeks to promote natural gas exports from the east Mediterranean.
“They (the UAE) said they would examine the issue,” the Israeli statement said.
Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Jordan signed a charter on Tuesday establishing the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF).
The group unites regional rivals of Turkey, which has been locked in a bitter dispute with European Union members Greece and Cyprus over gas drilling rights in the region.
(With Reuters)