Palestinian leaders applaud Boris Johnson for standing against annexation

Palestinian leaders applaud Boris Johnson for standing against annexation
Boris Johnson penned an article in an Israeli newspaper urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to abandon annexation on the grounds that it would be a major breach of international law. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Palestinian leaders applaud Boris Johnson for standing against annexation

Palestinian leaders applaud Boris Johnson for standing against annexation
  • UK PM’s letter in Israeli media condemning annexation may have played a key role in Israel backing down
  • New peace negotiations could be led by the UK alongside other powers, Palestinian diplomat suggests

LONDON: Palestinian leaders were impressed by the firm stance UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took against Israeli annexation, and hope to work with him and other European leaders in future negotiations, a senior Palestinian diplomatic has said.

Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the UK, told the Telegraph that Johnson’s intervention against Israel’s planned annexation of much of the West Bank last month played a key role in forcing Israel to back down.

In early July, with Israel’s initial proposed annexation date fast approaching, Johnson penned an article in an Israeli newspaper urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to abandon annexation on the grounds that it would be a major breach of international law.

“As a life-long friend, admirer and supporter of Israel,” he wrote, “I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”

Zomlot celebrated this intervention, which heavily implied there would be concrete consequences should Israel move ahead with the plans.

“Prime Minister Johnson was one of the most active in Europe and worldwide in saying to Israel, do not do this — all the way to writing an article, telling them we love you so much, but don’t disfigure that experience.”

He added: “Practically, that was the message, that annexation is a matter that will bring consequences and will affect Israeli and our relationship.”

Johnson’s remarks, Zomlot said, made it clear that he and other world leaders were “not Trump,” and that they would not subject the Palestinian people to “the rule of the jungle” by allowing annexation to go ahead.

The senior diplomat also called on the British prime minister to bring together the Palestinians, Israelis and European powers to reinvigorate the peace process at a summit, in a departure from the long-running precedent of using the US as a key mediator of the negotiations.

“Lead an international peace conference, bring everybody you can,” he suggested.

“Bring all of us around the table and apply the international framework, and give guarantees … of a multilateral peace making mechanism led by the UK and other key countries that will deliver a hope for a solution and an actual implementation of a solution.”

Moves to formally annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank into Israel began with the signing of a coalition government agreement earlier this year, after Netanyahu made the issue a central pledge in his re-election campaign.

The plans were met with widespread international condemnation, including from the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN and the EU.


Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Updated 2 min 39 sec ago

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks
  • The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion
  • Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks

KABUL: Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.
The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion but is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a cease-fire.
“The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda,” Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, told Reuters.
The Taliban spokesman confirmed the same on Twitter.
The agreement comes after months of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in negotiations encouraged by the United States. In Afghanistan, the two sides are still at war, with Taliban attacks on government forces continuing unabated.
Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks, despite calls from Western capitals and global bodies, saying that that would be taken up only when the way forward for talks was agreed upon.
UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons welcomed the “positive development” on Twitter, adding that “this breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans.”
Last month, an agreement reached between Taliban and government negotiators was held up at the last minute after the insurgents balked at the document’s preamble because it mentioned the Afghan government by name.
The Taliban refused to refer to the Afghan negotiating team as representatives of the Afghan government, as they contest the legitimacy of the administration led by President Ashraf Ghani.