Palestinian PM: Israeli annexation plans are 'existential threat'





Ramallah/Tel Aviv - By Sara Lemel and Tamara Zieve, - Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank are an "existential threat," Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Tuesday.
"It is a serious violation of all agreements," he told reporters at a press conference in Ramallah, adding that annexation would be a "total breach of international law" and a "threat to regional security."



 
His comments come less than a month before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could bring proposals on annexation before the Israeli cabinet or parliament for a vote.
The planned annexation of Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley is part of US President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.
The plan, released in late January, was widely criticized, and Palestinians have rejected it out of fear it will recognize Israeli claims to parts of the West Bank that they want for a future state.
As a consequence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently cancelled all agreements with Israel and the US.
Israel maintains that the territory is part of the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the Jordan Valley is important to it for strategic security reasons.
"Israel has systematically destroyed the pillars of a future Palestinian state," Shtayyeh charged, also accusing the country of killing any potential peace agreement.
If the plan to apply Israeli civilian law to settlements currently under military rule goes ahead, Shtayyeh said the Palestinians will respond with its own measures.
"If Israel is going to annex, we are going to go from the interim period into the manifestation of a state on the ground," he told reporters. "There will be a founding council and a constitutional declaration and Palestine will be with borders of 1967 and we will call on the international community to recognize it."
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War, and hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis are now living in the territory.
Shtayyeh also said that the Palestinians have presented the Quartet on the Middle East, consisting of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, with their own counterproposal to the Trump plan.
He said it includes "minor border modifications, wherever it is needed" and an independent demilitarized state along the 1967 borders.
Under Trump's plan, a Palestinian state would be established on the 70 per cent of the West Bank, while the Palestinian plan sees a state on almost all of that land.
Shtayyeh addressed a Wednesday visit to Israel by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is expected to warn Netanyahu against annexation.
"We know the history of the legacy of German-Jewish relations. We know how sensitive this issue is," the Palestinian leader said. "But this should not come at the expense of Palestinian rights."
Maas will not visit Ramallah due to the "complicated circumstances" presented by the coronavirus pandemic, a German Foreign Office spokesman said on Monday.
Shtayyeh, however, said that Israel "is not allowing" Maas to visit Ramallah and "this is not a good sign."
Maas is scheduled to hold video talks with Shtayyeh while in Jordan on the second leg of his trip.
If Israel goes ahead with the unilateral move, 58 per cent of Israelis think that the Palestinians will start a third Intifada, or uprising, according to a poll published last week by the Israel Democracy Institute research centre.
Also last week, Israeli security chiefs held a meeting to discuss scenarios surrounding the possible annexation, and Defence Minister Benny Gantz previously instructed military Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to prepare the army for any developments in the Palestinian arena.
Shtayyeh asserted that: "We will continue to maintain law and order. We will not allow things to go into chaos."

 


Tuesday, June 9th 2020
By Sara Lemel and Tamara Zieve,
           


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