EU, France, Ireland urge decisive action to block Israeli annexation of West Bank
Al-Haq Welcomes EU, Irish and French Positions and Urges Third States to Take Decisive Action to Prevent Further Israeli Annexation
On 20 April 2020, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and former Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Occupying Forces, Benny Gantz, published a statement regarding a power-sharing coalition agreement reached by both parties to the newly-formed Israeli government, which promised the illegal annexation of substantial parts of the occupied West Bank.
Annexing the West Bank settlements and resource rich Jordan Valley, has been a longstanding campaign promise by Netanyahu as part of the broader colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). This was further officially endorsed by the current United States (US) administration through the so-called “Peace to Prosperity” plan.
Since Israel’s illegal annexation of West Jerusalem in 1948, the colonization of Palestine has continued, facilitated by the imposition of a brutal military occupation and apartheid regime, and the annexation in 1967 of occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan.
Al-Haq welcomes statements made by Third States in relation to the content of the coalition agreement, particularly the statement of the European Union (EU) High Representative, Josep Borell, on 23 April 2020, condemning Israel’s intention to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The EU has rightly recognised this policy as illegal under international law, as determined by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 Advisory Opinion on the illegality of the Annexation Wall, and relevant UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force, annexation, and the unlawful alteration by Israel of the character, demographic composition, and legal status of the occupied Palestinian territory. Furthermore, Borell cogently highlighted the EU’s position of non-recognition of Israeli annexationist claims to the occupied Palestinian territory.
In line with their obligations as third States not to recognise as lawful situations arising from breaches of peremptory norms of international law, Al-Haq also welcomes the unequivocal statements issued by the Republic of Ireland on maintaining its long-standing commitment to the rule of law in Palestine, dated 23 April 2020, and condemning any form of annexation as fundamentally incompatible with international law, in particular international humanitarian law. Additionally, Al-Haq commends France for condemning the Israeli ‘government coalition agreement’ which threatens the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank. Notably, France’s ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, laudably stated that France will not abide by such illegal action and will take steps to challenge it.
Furthermore, Al-Haq wishes to commend UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, for his tireless efforts and foresight in alerting the international community to the prolonged occupation as having “crossed the bright red line into illegality” and taking the lead in urging the international community to “apply and escalate the range of its targeted countermeasures until compliance had been achieved”.
Critically, third States responsibility does not stop at the obligation of non-recognition. The law on State responsibility further requires third States not to render aid or assistance in the maintenance of the illegal situation and to cooperate to bring the illegal situation to an end. Yet, despite the overwhelming recognition of the illegality of Israeli annexation and colonization policies and practices, through its failure to act, the international community has persistently allowed Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied territory to continue unchallenged. It is this impunity, for decades, that has emboldened the Israeli occupier in its plans to further entrench its settler-colonial endeavour at the expense of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. The announcement of the annexation of the occupied Jordan Valley must be seen in light of this continued failure by third States to take meaningful action to cooperate to bring an end to Israel’s prolonged occupation, annexation, and apartheid.
As the Israeli government prepares to annex the Jordan Valley, the real test will be the willingness of third States to take genuine action to ensure Israeli compliance with international law. This requires the adoption of effective coercive measures, including economic sanctions, in order to bring to an end Israeli impunity. Al-Haq calls on third States to immediately act to try perpetrators of grave breaches of international law in their own jurisdictions and to support international justice and accountability for widespread and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people and urge the opening of a full and thorough investigation by the International Criminal Court into the Situation in Palestine.
Al-Haq Reiterates Calls on the International Community, and for states individually and collectively, to:
- Continue to not recognize Israel’s unilateral sovereignty over Jerusalem, in line with international law and UN resolutions;
- Continue to publicly denounce the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, including by refraining from establishing embassies in the city, and abstaining from meetings or events at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem;
- Ensure the implementation of international law and the protection of the Palestinian people, including through the implementation of economic sanctions and other measures, until Israel adheres to its obligations as a member of the UN and occupying power;
- Fully cooperate with and publicly support the International Criminal Court;
- Take concrete and immediate measures to end Israel’s prolonged occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory, and ensure effective remedy and redress for all Palestinians.
- That those states yet to do so, to immediately recognise the State of Palestine, to advocate for its full membership of the UN, and to reaffirm the Palestinian right to self-determination and to affirm the national unity and territorial integrity of Palestine;
- Clearly reject the US ‘Peace Plan’, and any other proposals for negotiations which seek to deny Palestinian rights, or which condition Palestinian exercise of rights on submission to an externally imposed ‘political settlement’;
- To take timely and decisive action, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations, in response to Israel’s ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights and failure to abide by basic legal obligations;
- To unilaterally or collectively implement comprehensive trade sanctions against Israel, to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law and prevent further erasure of Palestinian presence from the occupied territory. Particular emphasis should be given to the need to end the sale or supply of military products to Israel;
- To implement laws banning the import of goods produced in illegal settlements located in any occupied territory, having particular reference to the UN’s 2020 report on business enterprises involved in certain activities relating to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
- To provide the urgent and necessary support, financial, political, and humanitarian to UNRWA; until Palestinian refugees are enabled to exercise their right to return.
- To convene a conference as High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to study measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem. Such conference must focus on delivering a plan for the dismantling of the settlement enterprise and affirm the unlawful nature of the prolonged occupation.
- Al-Haq further calls on UN Member States to address the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory at the General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace resolution 377 procedure. If the UN Security Council fails to exercise its primary responsibility to act as required to maintain international peace and security it is incumbent on the General Assembly to act in the face of ongoing annexation and implement measures to end Israel’s military occupation and enable Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination”
Failure by the international community to intervene with the necessary and comprehensive response represents a failure to respect the object and purpose of the Charter of the United Nations and imperative “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.”