Context: Recently, the Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank have alarmed the Palestinians and the international community and leading to existential threat for Palestine.
- The UN Secretary General’s alarm has been sounded in the context of the Israeli Prime Minister's reported plan to annex on July 1 around 30% of the Occupied West Bank.
- This will include annexation of all the existing (post-1967) settlements in addition to areas surrounding them and access roads.
- Ever since the war of June 1967, the Israeli effort has been to procrastinate a settlement and change ground realities.
Violation of International laws:
- Under international law, annexation is forcible acquisition of territory by one state at the expense of another state.
- The UN Secretary General in a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council hels that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at a “watershed moment” and such annexation would be “a most serious violation of international law”.
- The same position has been taken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights).
- It described the annexation of occupied territory as a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions.
- It is also contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly that acquisition of territory war or by force is inadmissible.
- This is a vision of a 21st century apartheid.
- He called upon the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans and asked the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN) to resume its mandated mediatory role.
- Middle East Quartet is a group of four nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. Established in Madrid in 2002, recalling Madrid Conference of 1991, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East.
Possible consequences of such a move on Palestinians:
- Property rights: Would Palestinians living in annexed areas, and owning around 23% of its land retain their private property?
- Citizenship status: Would they be enshrined in a legal framework of a two-class population divided by ethnicity and given Israeli residency as a category of “subjects” of the annexing entity?
- Would they be on a par with Israeli Arabs of Palestinian origin (Muslim, Christian and Druze) who together constitute about 20% of Israel’s population.
- Right to self-determination: Above all, will it take away from the Palestinians the right to have their own state under the right of national self-determination recognised at times without number by the international community.
- Enjoys good relations with Israel: India has a substantive relationship with Israel, reaching strategic dimensions, which are mutually beneficial.
- Supporting Palestinian cause: India’s amity with the Palestinian people, and its principled support to their cause, predates India’s own independence.
- On the global stage: India has invariably supported the UN Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions supportive of the Palestinians.
- At this critical juncture: India is back on the HorseShoe Table, whether to support an annexation in contraventions of international legality and of our own commitments.
- Israel needs to behave responsibly: As a member of the international community and contributes to international cooperation, Israel has succeeded in normalising its relations with a wide range of countries.
- Same it needs to observe while conducting its relations with Palestine.
- Injustice and denial of rights has no permanence: The record of Palestinian resistance and of protest movements the world over show that injustice and denial of rights has no permanence.
- Jean Jacques Rousseau said a long time back, “the strongest is never strong enough to be always master unless he transforms his power into right, and obedience into duty”.
Israel – Palestine conflict: the beginning
- First Arab-Israeli War (1948): The Arab countries declared war on the newly formed State of Israel. A formal armistice treaty was signed and Israel gained some territory formerly granted to Palestinian Arabs under the United Nations resolution in 1947.
- Egypt and Jordan retained control over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively.
- The Six-Day War, 1967: It was a brief but bloody conflict fought between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
- In less than a week, the young nation had captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
- Rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1974: The Arab League recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
- The PLO gained observer status at the U.N. General Assembly the same year.
- The two-state solution in 1974: The two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River. The Palestinian leadership has embraced the concept. It is not accepted by Israel.
- Although relations between India and PLO were first established in 1974, India recognized Palestine's statehood following declaration on 18 November 1988.
- Camp David Accords, 1978: Israel and Egypt signed the US-brokered Camp David Accords and Israel gave Sinai back to Egypt.
- Israeli settlements begin (1982): Israeli military invaded Lebanon to kick the PLO out. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers moved into the Palestinian heavy West Bank & Gaza.
- The Intifada (1987 to 1993): During the First Intifada (Palestinian uprising), Hamas was created in Gaza (a violent extremist group dedicated to the destruction of Israel). It has received support from Iran and Syria. On the other hand, Fatah, a faction of the PLO under Yasser Arafat received support from Western nations.
- The Oslo Peace Accords,1993: The Accords created the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) with responsibility for the administration of the territory under its control.
- The Accords also called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
- Hamas did not accept the Oslo peace accord or 2 state peace resolution. It wanted the whole state. It controls Gaza. It is supported by Iran.
- Since 1995, several peace summits and proposals, including the Camp David Summit (2000), Taba Summit (2001), a Road Map for Peace (2002), and the Arab Peace Initiative (2002 and 2007), have attempted to broker a solution, with no success.
The drive for recognition of Palestinian statehood 2000-2005:
- A Second Intifada occurs, this time much more violent. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005. But, citing security concerns, maintains tight control over land and sea borders.
- Hamas gains power but splits from the Palestinian Authority.
- Israel operates a two-tiered system in the West Bank that provides preferential treatment to Israeli settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians.
- Israel also has maintained onerous restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, including checkpoints and the separation barrier.
- In December 2017, US President Trump recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced his intention to construct a U.S. embassy there, reversing longstanding U.S. policy.
- On May 14th, 2018 the United States Embassy was formally relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, on the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel.
The shift of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem reflects the close alliance that has developed between Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu, which Palestinian leaders say has worsened prospects for peace. Many Palestinians protested the opening of the Embassy.
Image Source: TH