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

  • 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.


North Korea brings aid supplies to border town under coronavirus lockdown

Updated 4 min 27 sec ago

North Korea brings aid supplies to border town under coronavirus lockdown

  • Lockdown imposed on Kaesong last month after a person, who defected to South Korea in 2017, returned showing coronavirus symptoms

SEOUL: North Korea’s ruling party has delivered special aid packages of food and medical equipment to residents of Kaesong, near the border with the South, after imposing a lockdown there due to COVID-19 concerns, state media said on Sunday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency and imposed a lockdown on the small border town last month after a person, who defected to South Korea in 2017, returned to Kaesong across the highly fortified border showing coronavirus symptoms.
Pyongyang has not confirmed any coronavirus infections but has been taking strict quarantine measures and screening the town, while providing food, test kits and other medical equipment, according to state media.
State television on Sunday showed a train arriving at the Kaesong station and trucks delivering supplies to residents.
Separately, hundreds of people wearing masks and sitting apart from one another gathered at a party auditorium to thank authorities for the aid, with some breaking down in tears, footage showed.
The official KCNA news agency said the shipments arrived on Friday to help the residents cope with the lockdown, which “may lead to a deadly and destructive disaster.”
North Korea has not formally confirmed that the man in question tested positive for the virus. Seoul officials have said the 24-year-old returned to the North after facing a sexual assault investigation in the South.
South Korean health officials said there was no sign he was infected before he crossed the border, and at least two people who were in close contact with him have tested negative.
South Korea has confirmed 14,598 coronavirus cases and 305 COVID-19 deaths, the Korea Centers for Disease Prevention and Control said on Sunday.