You’d be forgiven if the latest on Israel and Palestine has passed you by. We are flooded with ‘news’ right now, and it is difficult to keep up. Unfortunately, this means world events are passing at speed under the radar. Political leaders by-pass timely questions and their actions escape scrutiny. But we absolutely must hold our lawmakers to account: how will they respond to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s threat to annex the Palestinian West Bank?
Annexation is an attack on international consensus
Netanyahu – Israel’s Prime Minister - has promised to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by “controlling the entire area”. He went on to say “I am going to extend sovereignty and I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements.”
The Israeli Prime Minister has publicly proclaimed that he intends to extend his State’s transparent violation of the Geneva Convention (article IV) by moving beyond belligerent occupation to the - once unimaginable - permanent seizure of Palestinian state land and resources. As recently as late last year, the EU repeated its position that it will "continue to urge both parties to refrain from unilateral actions that undermine the re-launch of the negotiations or imperil the viability of the two-state solution.” Annexation doesn’t just undermine a two states outcome, it undermines the very possibility of peace.
Annexation ends the possibility of a Palestinian state
This latest declaration follows another peace-risking announcement from the USA which recognises the occupied Golan Heights as Israel’s land in complete denial of international law. The USA has long stopped being a credible broker. The sad news is, it has now become a proactive partner in Israel’s land grabbing project.
It now falls to individual European states to act. Britain, France, Ireland and Spain recognising a Palestinian state now might be the only possible game changer. There are many compelling reasons why recognition would help push peace forwards (read our 18 reasons why to support recognition).
Annexation means that the recognition of Palestine by European countries is now urgent
For years, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have expressed their intentions to recognise the Palestinian state “when the time is right”. The time now is not only right, it is crucial. If the international community fails to act now we will, in the most likelihood, be committing the region to an irresolvable open ended conflict that would last for as far as the eye can see.
Recognition helps both Israel and Palestine
Britain must recognise that, by acting this way, Israel is endangering its own future, the future of the Palestinians and the future of international law. Given the relative sizes of the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish populations across the whole of Israel and Palestine, and the determination of Israel to maintain its character as a Jewish state, denying Palestinians their own can only mean one of two things: absolute and eternal apartheid or 21st century ethnic cleansing.
There are many good reasons why Governments should recognise a Palestinian state now. Even the UK Government –despite its deserved reputation for decision-making paralysis – must surely see that not acting brings the greatest risk of all.
Act now - recognise Palestine.