A member of the Israeli security forces fires towards Palestinian demonstrators during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the village of Atuf in the Jordan Valley on June 5, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

While nations across the globe are deeply engrossed in seeking to find mechanisms for economic recovery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one nation has more nefarious ambitions. Israel, long viewed as a rogue state in the region, had recently announced that from July 1, it will be ready to annex parts of the West Bank belonging to the Palestinian people as part of Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” plan.

Not content to turn Gaza as the largest concentration camp on earth, the Israeli government has now turned its sights on the remaining lands belonging to the rightful owners, the Palestinians. This seems to be the de facto justification for the collective punishment of the people of Gaza. It also falls into the familiar pattern of highlighting Palestinian violence, keeping silent about the Israeli violence, and the reasons for the Palestinian violence in the first place.

The latest plans for the illegal annexation by Israel are in direct defiance of international law. Annexation is a concept in international law whereby one state forcibly and illegally takes parts of another state to increase its own land. Israel did this in 1967, when it took control of the West Bank, and consequentially opened up communities of Israeli colonisers who started moving into occupied Palestinian territories.

Illegal colonies

Since 1967, the Israeli government has been sanctioning the illegal colonies that have sprouted on Palestinian lands in occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel provides colonists with infrastructure, services, and subsidies that it denies to Palestinians, creating and sustaining a separate and unequal system of law, rules, and services.

Over the years, Israeli authorities have illegally expropriated thousands of acres of Palestinian land for colonies. For decades, Israeli authorities have demolished homes on the grounds that they lacked permits, even though the law of occupation prohibits the destruction of property except for military necessity, or punitively as collective punishment against families of Palestinians suspected of attacking Israelis. Today, there are roughly 140 Israeli colonies scattered around the West Bank with 75 per cent based on the West Bank border, all of which are illegal under international law.

Israel has also arbitrarily restricted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their ability to live in and travel from the West Bank and Gaza. Israel also revoked the residency of more than 130,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and 14,565 in occupied East Jerusalem since 1967, largely on the basis that they had been away for too long.

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Israeli authorities have imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the majority after trials in military courts where the verdict is known before the trial even begins, and conviction is the order of the day!

The Palestinians along with most of the Arab world have denounced the US President Trump’s “peace plan” which backs the annexation of parts of the West Bank, unifying those Israeli colonies close to the border to create a larger Israeli state. The Israelis are content that Trump has given Netanyahu his blessing to steal more occupied Palestinian land.

Along with a powerful AIPAC lobby in the United States, and a host of diehard Zionist sympathisers in the present US administration including the US ambassador to Israel, the Palestinians today do not look at the US as an honest broker for peace.

The United States meanwhile places the blame on the Palestinians. Clinging on to the myopic view that the Palestinians living in Gaza are living under chaos because of Hamas, and the blame has to be placed fully at their feet, administration after administration is willing to look the other way to excuse Israeli crimes and nod in assent at the building of illegal Israeli colonies.

Unilateral moves rejected

Saudi Arabia flatly condemned the Israeli plans for annexation in West Bank last week and put it under Israeli sovereignty, stating that the move could prevent resumption of peace talks and undermine regional security. The country’s foreign ministry was quoted as saying that it reiterates its ‘steadfast stance toward the brotherly Palestinian people and support for its choices, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital and it rejects unilateral moves and any violations of UN Security Council resolutions, as they could prevent the resumption of peace talks and undermine regional security.’

The Saudis have long pushed forth the Arab Peace Initiative, a 2002 proposal that all Arab states had adopted and which recognises Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip and a capital in East Jerusalem. However, with the current apartheid-minded leadership prevailing in Israel, there will be no takers.

— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena