"We are at a crossroads. One path leads to a united society with true democracy, civil and national equality, while the other leads to hatred, violence, annexation and apartheid." These were the words used by Ayman Odeh, a member of the Arab United List, the third largest force in the Israeli Parliament, during a demonstration against the plans of the country led by Benjamin Netanyahu to annex parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. The UN has followed this same rhetoric and warned that these plans "are a vision of 21st century apartheid" and violate international law".
The UN Human Rights Council - an intergovernmental body made up of 47 states responsible for the protection of human rights around the world - issued a statement on Tuesday saying that "the annexation of an occupied territory is a grave violation of the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions". In the same declaration, they also pointed out that this proposal "is contrary to the rule presented by the Security Council and the UN General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible". "The international community has banned annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and causes widespread human suffering," they emphasized.
The UN considers the 53 years of Israeli occupation to be "sources of gross violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people", including the confiscation of natural resources, the demolition of homes, forced population transfer, excessive use of force and torture, labour exploitation, extensive violations of the right to privacy, and restrictions on the media and freedom of expression. The UN panel of experts has criticised the criminalisation of human rights defenders who denounce the violations suffered by civilians in this region and has warned that "these violations will intensify after the annexation" .
"The Israeli occupation has meant the denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinians," they have said. It is the right of peoples to self-determination that allows a people to decide its own forms of government, as well as to pursue its economic, social and cultural development, without interference from any outside actor. The UN fears that the West Bank will become "a Palestinian Bantustan", i.e. "an island of land with no territorial connection to the outside world and surrounded by Israel". The Bantustans - one of the greatest examples of racial segregation imposed on South Africa - are self-governing territories created during apartheid to separate blacks from whites and thus deprive them of their rights.
"Israel has recently promised to maintain permanent security control between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. The morning after the annexation would be the crystallization of an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same space, governed by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights. This is a vision of 21st century apartheid," the UN said in a statement issued Tuesday. Over half a century, Israel's occupation of the West Bank - including East Jerusalem in 1980 - and the Gaza Strip has been criticized by both the UN and other international organizations such as Amnesty International. The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the annexations of these occupied territories -- East Jerusalem in 1980 and the Syrian Golan Heights in 1981 -- as "illegal", as well as the Israeli settlements described by the United Nations as "a flagrant violation of international law". However, the international community did not take any significant steps to oppose Israel's actions.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has called on the international community to be different this time. "The international community has a solemn legal and political responsibility to uphold a rules-based international order, to oppose violations of human rights and fundamental principles of international law and to give effect to its many resolutions criticizing Israel's conduct in this prolonged occupation," they said in an official statement.
The UN has also urged states "not to recognize, aid or assist another state in any form of illegal activity, such as annexation or the creation of civilian settlements in occupied territory. The lessons of the past are clear, according to the United Nations, which has highlighted the need to focus on accountability and an end with impunity, instead of judging without acting, because "critique without consequences will not prevent annexation or an end of the occupation".
During this meeting, the more than 40 representatives of the States responsible for ensuring the observance of human rights have expressed their concern about the role of the United States "in supporting and promoting Israel's illegal plans to continue to annex occupied territory". "On many occasions over the past 75 years, the United States has played an important role in advancing global human rights. On this occasion, it should oppose the imminent violation of a fundamental principle of international law, rather than actively instigating its violation," they said. Among the experts responsible for drafting this statement was Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine.
The Foreign Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Riyad Malki, has welcomed this statement, while calling on the international community to prevent this plan from being implemented. Malki has thanked the UN for "clarifying the role played by the US in encouraging these crimes, including illegal plans to annex more land, and in granting the occupation and its officials immunity and impunity," she said in statements released by the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
Malki has also urged the international community to "take responsibility and heed the call of the experts" to end Israel's annexation plan. The Palestinian diplomat has also called on states to impose sanctions on Israel, "including on the weapons and equipment that this country uses against the Palestinian people".
The Israeli annexation plan would extend sovereignty to a large part of the Jordan Valley and the more than 235 illegal Israeli settlements that exist in the West Bank, i.e. 30% of this territory. The annexation of part of the West Bank territory was supported by the United States Peace and Prosperity Plan, published at the end of January 2020.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained on Monday that the Israeli government's plans to annex part of the West Bank could be implemented "in stages". According to Netanyahu's plan, the first stage would be the application of sovereignty to settlements around the large blocks of Judea and Samaria, i.e. 10 per cent of the territory, as opposed to 30 per cent under the Trump plan. lan Trump.
Subsequently, Netanyahu intends to approach the Palestinian Authority to call for the resumption of negotiations for a peace agreement. If these talks do not move forward, Israel will proceed to the second stage which consists of applying sovereignty to the whole of the territories, as explained by digital Israel Hayom. At the moment, the idea is still on the table and no roadmap has been designed to implement this plan. The annexation of the West Bank, scheduled for July, is part of the agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz to form a unity government.