Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Pressure builds on Israel to drop West Bank land grab

Filed on July 2, 2020

Life is often punctuated, rather dictated, by calls made in Knesset, like it is happening now

The Israel-Palestine conflict goes back seven decades but the maximum damage to a two-state solution has been done in the last four years under US President Donald Trump. The US has blindly supported Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and Tel Aviv's control of the Golan Heights that it captured in 1967. Trump entrusted his son-in-law Jared Kushner to strike the 'deal of the century' that did grave injustice to Palestinians and their hopes of securing their own state. Netanyahu has since been emboldened and his plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley does not bode well for the peace and stability in the region. It could provoke Palestinian anger, and strike a final blow to the two-state solution. Palestinians have been living like refugees in their own land, without rights. Life is often punctuated, rather dictated, by calls made in Knesset, like it is happening now. The spatial limitations on a future Palestinian state are being defined through illegal land grabs.

Besides, formalisation of annexation does little to promote normalisation of ties with the Arab world. The UAE is at the forefront of ensuring a just solution for the Palestinians and is using its soft power to persuade the regime to see reason. Recently the two countries announced a partnership to fight the pandemic together. Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE's Ambassador to the United States, last month pointed out that such a move would be illegal, and the UAE, like many other countries including the UK, would oppose the decision. Such recklessness by Netanyahu also benefits Iran. Tehran has worked to disrupt any normalisation of Arab-Israeli ties for decades. Tehran is known to provide assistance to groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad. It could use this situation to stoke further instability in the region. The Trump administration is seeing Israel's move as an extension of its peace plan in the region. Kushner has cast doubts on Palestinian ability to self-govern and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is with Israel and said that the country has the right to retain some of the West Bank. Since 1967, successive administrations in Washington have supported Israel by turning a blind eye to encroachments in East Jerusalem and Golan Heights. Over the years, the US has quietly accepted such moves as the status quo, which has emboldened Tel Aviv. Europe and the UN should pressure the Israeli government to drop its plans now that the US, Netanyahu's main backer, has chickened out. Arab-Israeli ties should be reset, but the onus is on Tel Aviv not to blow the opportunity.

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