Palestinian PM urges Europe's leaders to show Israel annexation has a cost

Mohammad Shtayyeh says European countries including Britain can fill leadership vacuum left by US amid Israeli pledge to formally annex parts of West Bank

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks during the leadership meeting to discuss the Israeli planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, in Jordan Valley June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman?
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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has urged British and other European leaders to show Israel that annexation has a cost and to consider sanctions against the country if plans go ahead.

Speaking at an online event organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, Mr Shtayyeh railed against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in July.

The land on which Israel has built settlements is part of the territory Palestinians and much of the international community view as part of a possible future Palestinian state.

“I think the Israelis should realise that this annexation measure has a cost and they will pay for it and I think the British government is in a position to make such a statement,” the Palestinian prime minister said while addressing a group that included British MPs.

Mr Shtayyeh hit out at US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century, revealed at the start of this year, which gave Israel the green light for annexation.

This Monday, June 29, 2020 photo shows an area near Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank. The U.N.'s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that Israel's plan to begin annexing parts of the occupied West Bank would have "disastrous" consequences for the region, issuing her dire warning as senior U.S. and Israeli officials were meeting in Jerusalem trying to finalize the move. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Area near Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank AP

Mr Shtayyeh characterised the US initiative as a “disaster plan that has been rejected by the whole world”.

“The United States’ proposal has been born dead. There is a political vacuum. Europe can fill the vacuum,” Mr Shtayyeh said.

“Europe has many agreements with Israel ... all these are tools that Europe can really pressure Israel with. I think the Israelis really understand what economic sanctions mean.”

The Palestinian prime minister also called on the British government to adopt a double-track approach as it prepared for the likelihood of annexation.

“It is so important that the British government will go into a double-track approach: one with Washington to explain the dangers of this annexation and that the Israelis should feel the heat of the consequences of their measures,” he said.

The majority of the international community including Britain, other European nations and the European Union, have condemned Israel’s repeated intention of annexing some 30 per cent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

International leaders and experts have said the Israeli plans would effectively end any hopes of a two-state solution to the long-standing conflict and a potential Palestinian state.

Britain has vowed not to let Israeli annexation go unchecked but speaking on Tuesday, the country's Middle East Minister James Cleverly said he did not agree with individuals calling for sanctions and disinvestment in response to the potential move by Israel.

"The United Kingdom will not recognise any unilateral attempt to change the border,” Mr Cleverly said while addressing the UN last week.

"Such a step would go against the rules-based international order and the UN Charter. Annexation could not go unanswered and we implore Israel to reconsider."