UN rights chief asks Israel to stop ‘illegal’ annexation of the West Bank
The United Nations' top human rights official Michelle Bachelet asked Israel on Monday to put a stop to its “illegal” plan to annex part of the Palestinian occupied territory in the West Bank.
The official said that the plan could lead to an escalation of the ongoing conflict in the region and lead to deadly clashes.
“Annexation is illegal. Period,” Bachelet said in a statement. “I am deeply concerned that even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed and the two populations brought into closer proximity.”
The plan, which was designed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration to extend Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the territory, is a violation of the Geneva Conventions which outlaws the claims on territory captured in war.
The plan includes not only the settlement blocs around Jerusalem but also the 105 kilometre long Jordan Valley. This would mean an annexation of around 30% of the West Bank.
Most Palestinian farmers, who are not connected to the water grid, would be unable to access the Jordan River and would have to buy water from tankers according to Aljazeera.
The proposal has drawn condemnation from the Palestinians, US Arab allies and other foreign governments. Palestinians took to the streets on Saturday to protest the annexation plans.
Netanyahu’s cabinet is to meet to approve the move this week, after it gets the green light from US President Donald Trump.
Last January, Trump, in his so-called “deal of the century,” gave approval for Israel’s Greater Israel policy including its annexation of settlements built on Palestinian land as well as other parts of the West Bank.
The proposed annexation of the Jordan Valley is about 30% larger at 1,236 square kilometres than the area outlined in Trump’s January 2020 plan.
The “deal of the century” would also allow the US to continue its campaign of maximum pressure on Iran with Israel as its vital ally along with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.
France, Germany and the UK joined other European members of the UN Security Council in echoing the statements against the illegal annexation and said they would refuse to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.