Charities demand UK action against Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands

Charities including Christian Aid accuse UK of 'lacklustre' response to Israel

An Israeli policeman prepares to block the entrance to a junction by the Palestinian village of Halhul, north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, on June 30, 2020, as Israeli settlers arrive to attend a rally against US President Donald Trump's peace plan which might create a Palestinian state and also the Israeli annexation of some parts West Bank.  / AFP / HAZEM BADER

British charities and human rights groups have joined to pressure the UK government to actively oppose Israeli attempts to annex parts of the West Bank.

Charities including Christian Aid issued a statement accusing the UK government of having a “lacklustre” response to Israel.

“While reiterating its principled opposition to annexation and stating that such action is illegal, the UK has consistently failed to outline how it will meaningfully oppose it,” they said.

“The precise shape that this annexation will take remains unclear, although it is likely to encompass existing settlements and potentially the resource-rich agricultural lands of the Jordan Valley that are so vital to the Palestinian economy.

"But whether an inch of land or the entire West Bank, such a move would be manifestly unlawful.”

The groups, because they have charitable status, make no specific political proposals.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has urged British and other European leaders to show Israel that annexation has a cost, and to consider sanctions if the plans go ahead.

Experts say Israeli plans would effectively end any hope of a two-state solution to the long-standing conflict.

The UAE condemned Israel's plan to annex large areas of the occupied West Bank during an emergency Arab League meeting.

Allies and regional powers are opposed to the plan, and several thousand Israelis demonstrated against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to extend sovereignty over parts of the occupied West Bank.

The UK government has said it “strongly opposes” annexation, which would be against international law.

“Such a step would go against the rules-based international order and the UN charter,” the Middle East Minister, James Cleverly, told the UN.

"Annexation could not go unanswered and we implore Israel to reconsider."

The opposition Labour Party wants the government to consider banning the import of goods made in the West Bank.

“The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank," said shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.

“This is a major step but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences.

"It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show.”