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Thursday Jun 25 2020
By
Reuters

Give up plan to annex West Bank settlements: UN to Israel

By
Reuters
If implemented, annexation would 'grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution, undercut possibilities of a renewal of negotiations,' says UN chief. Photo: Reuters 

NEW YORK: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged Israel to abandon its plans to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank, saying if implemented it would constitute a serious violation of international law.

“If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations,” Guterres told the UN Security Council.

“I call on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plans,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet is preparing to start discussions on July 1 on annexation of the West Bank, territory Israel captured in a 1967 war and that Palestinians seek for a state.

Palestinians vehemently oppose the annexation plan, as do most world powers. Palestinian leaders have also completely rejected a peace proposal unveiled in January by US President Donald Trump, in which Washington would recognise Jewish settlements as part of Israel.

“Should Israel decide to extend its sovereignty, it will be doing so with respect to areas over which it has always maintained a legitimate, historical and legal claim,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the council.

Senior aides to Trump began discussions on Tuesday on whether to give Netanyahu a green light for his annexation plan. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that extending Israeli sovereignty was a decision “for Israelis to make.”

“I understand that many of you have concerns,” US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft told the council. “At the same time, we ask that you also hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for acts they are responsible for.”

Guterres called on the Middle East Quartet of mediators — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — “to take up our mandated mediation role and find a mutually agreeable framework for the parties to re-engage, without preconditions, with us and other key states.”