Ahead of World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, more than 20 charities, religious groups, and civil society organisations have signed a statement urgently calling on public bodies to “uphold their ethical and legal responsibilities to ensure human rights and international law are respected” – in response to Israel’s plans to illegally annex Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Signatories come from a wide range of organisations such as the Church in Wales, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, UNISON, Unite the Union, GMB, NEU. The groups are demanding accountability and responsibility, stating that the Israeli Government’s plans are “not only an attack on the rights and futures of Palestinians, but also against the very foundations of international law.”
The Israeli Government has said that it intends to annex large swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank, which was militarily occupied in 1967. Annexation, illegal under international law, is the forcible and unilateral acquisition of territory over which it has no recognised sovereignty and to make it an integral part of the state – in this case, Israel.
The statement references UN Special Rapporteur Professor Michael Lynk, who in a recent report recommended that the international community “take all measures, including countermeasures and sanctions, necessary to ensure the respect by Israel of its duty under international law to end the occupation,” mirroring the global call from Palestinian civil society for ‘effective measures’ to be taken to stop this annexation happening.
Recent commentary around the UAE-Israel deal brokered by Donald Trump has suggested a roll back of Israel’s intention to annex Palestinian land, rather than a temporary delay. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared immediately after the deal was announced: “There is no change to my plan to extend sovereignty, our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the United States.”
Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “As the United Arab Emirates moves to normalise relations with Israel – and with Donald Trump in the White House – it is more imperative than ever for the international community to send a clear message that Israel will be held accountable for its annexation plans and other continued human rights abuses. We must come together in standing up for international law.”
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary said: “The annexation of Palestinian land is a gross violation of international law. Governments, businesses and public bodies all have a responsibility to ensure that none of their purchasing, procurement or investment decisions contribute to the occupation or the violation of Palestinian human rights.”
Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary said: “Israel’s illegal settlement expansion and de facto annexation of Palestinian territory is an affront to international law that must not go unchallenged. We all have a duty to preserve international law, and hold Israel accountable for its blatant violations using all means available to us. It is our ethical duty to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, and ensure our public investments are not contributing to Israel’s violation of their rights”