Palestine: France and the European Union must act to prevent a new Israeli annexation burying the two-state solution once and for all

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

From 1 July, the Israeli government plans to annex a new part of the West Bank. This unilateral decision is illegal under international law, and France and the European Union must act against it. We, human rights and international solidarity NGOs, demand from our representatives the political courage and restrictive measures corresponding with the seriousness of this prospect.

A campaign argument of Benjamin Netanyahu for several years, the formal and unilateral annexation of a large part of the occupied West Bank now seems imminent.

This flagrant violation of international law marks the end of the two-State solution and buries the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination under the passive watch of the international community. In addition to worsening the human rights situation of hundreds of thousands of people, the Israeli Annexation Plan represents a dangerous precedent that violates international law and threatens international security in the direct European neighbourhood.

France, the EU, and other member states have so far been content to warn the Israeli authorities, but to no avail. The Israeli Prime Minister, assisted by his new ally Benny Gantz and reinforced by the “Trump Plan”, is determined to see his “Greater Israel” project through to completion. Already in 2018, the “Law on the Jewish Nation State” had institutionalized the discriminatory status of the Palestinians and considered “the development of Jewish settlements as a national value”, with the will to act “to encourage and promote their creation and strengthening”, thus preparing for annexation.

Colonization is already accelerating

While de facto annexation has already been in progress for many years through the continued seizure of Palestinian land, forced transfers, the strengthening of the settlements’ network and the progressive incorporation of Israeli law into the occupied territories, de jure annexation will considerably accentuate these human rights violations.

Settlement activity is already accelerating on the ground and formal annexation would only reinforce this. The example of East Jerusalem annexed by law in 1980 is evocative: in the space of twenty years, the population of Israeli settlers has doubled.

Nearly 150 Palestinian villages with 140,000 inhabitants could be included in the annexed areas, making them even more vulnerable to forced transfers, expropriation and land seizure. This policy began several years ago with the creation of a coercive environment where demolitions, denial of access to basic services and settler violence are common.

Finally, access to the annexed areas will be further restricted by new checkpoints and bypass roads, further limiting the freedom of movement of Palestinians. NGOs on the ground are also concerned about the increased clashes and violence that the final annexation could provoke between the Israeli army, settlers and Palestinians.

France’s urgent responsibilities

While France and the EU support the two-state solution -Palestinians and Israelis, living side by side and within secure and recognized borders- the forthcoming formal annexation will definitively bury this solution. France and the EU have clear international legal obligations to put an end to this illegal reality and the responsibility to preserve, in accordance with their current policy, the viability of the two-state solution. Their international credibility is also at stake. 

France, faithful to its human rights commitments and a leader within the EU, has several bilateral levers at its disposal to enact restrictive measures that are proportional to the gravity of the annexation and that would have the necessary weight to stop it. It must also push for collective sanctions against the Israeli government in the event of formal annexation, similar to the sanctions taken against Russia after the annexation of the Crimea.

In the absence of a European consensus, we expect France to have the political courage to enact measures at national and bilateral level.

The time has come to recognize the State of Palestine, within the parameters defined by the Oslo Accords put forward by France and Europe.

It is also time to comply with the obligation not to contribute to the development of Israeli settlements, and thus to ban products from the settlements from the French market, to exclude the settlements from the scope of bilateral treaties, and to actively dissuade companies from having trade and investment relations with the settlements.

The stakes are too high to take a cautious, wait-and-see approach. Our political leaders have an obligation to act, and they must act now.

Signatures, 

  • Association of academics for the respect of international law in Palestine (AURDIP)
  • Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  • Association “For Jerusalem”
  • Association for the Twinning between Palestinian refugee camps and French cities (AJPF)
  • Avaaz
  • CCFD-Terre Solidaire
  • CFDT- French Democratic Confederation of Labor
  • CGT-General Confederation of
  • Arab and Citizen Judeo Collective Work for Palestine
  • Vigilance Committee for Real Peace in the Near East (CVPR-PO)
  • CRID-Center for Research and Information for
  • Childhood Development World Network / Services (ERM-S)
  • Federation of Tunisians for a Citizenship on both Banks (FTCR)
  • FIDH-International Federation for Human Rights, 
  • Al Haq, 
  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, 
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  •  Palestinian Center for Human Rights
  • FSU – Unitary union federation
  • Solidarity Generations
  • Islamo Christian Friendship Group ( GAIC)
  • La Cimade
  • Education
  • League Human Rights League
  • Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP)
  • Peace Movement
  • International Movement for Reconciliation – France
  • Movement for a Non-violent Alternative ( MAN)
  • One Justice
  • Pax Christi France
  • Platform of French NGOs for Palestine
  • Première Urgence Internationale
  • REF – Euromed France Network
  • Democratic Association of Tunisians in France (ADTF)
  • Rtimo
  • Solidarité Laïque
  • Union of Tunisians for Citizen Action (UTAC)
  • French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP)
  • Union Syndicale Solidaires
  • Zembra Echo

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