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.


Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

Updated 22 September 2020

Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

  • Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots
  • The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks in a bid to overcome a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to exploit oil and gas resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Tuesday.
The statement followed his video conference meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.
During the meeting, Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots — and said the “momentum” for dialogue should be protected,” according to the statement.
The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights in an area between Turkey’s southern coast, several Greek islands and the war-divided island of Cyprus. Turkey sent a research vessel into the disputed waters this summer.
Following mediation efforts by Germany and others, Turkey pulled back the research vessel to port and both countries eased their naval presence and halted military exercises, paving the way for a dialogue.
It was not clear when and how the talks would begin. Erdogan told Merkel and Michel that “steps to be taken by Greece” would determine the course of the talks.
Greek-Turkish talks to resolve disputes were last held in 2016.
The Turkish leader also said he hoped that the next European Union summit would breathe new life into Turkish-EU ties, including allowing Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to Europe and sealing a new agreement on migration.
EU members Greece and Cyprus had been pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey at the Sept. 24-25 summit meeting to due Turkey’s search for energy inside Cyprus’ economic zone. But the summit has been postponed for a week because Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.