Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020


West Bank annexation: female world leaders denounce 'mostly male' plan

Forty prominent officials say Palestinian and Israeli women urge abandonment of annexation plans

Cars with Palestinian licence plates drive through the Tapuach junction, near Nablus, towards the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, on July 1, 2020. AFP
Cars with Palestinian licence plates drive through the Tapuach junction, near Nablus, towards the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, on July 1, 2020. AFP

Female political leaders on Wednesday called for the international community to exert efforts to stop Israel from annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, a move they described as an “existential threat” to world order if implemented.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made annexation a major pledge during campaigning, before the latest round of national elections held in March.

The plan, which is endorsed by Washington, sets out the creation of a Palestinian state, but on reduced territory, and without Palestinians’ core demand of a capital in East Jerusalem.

“Such a move would unravel half a century of efforts for peace in the region and the vision of two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, based on the pre-1967 borders, with far-reaching consequences,” said a joint statement by more than 40 global female leaders.

It also said the plan was created mostly “by men”, without any reference to the diverse perspectives of women.

The statement is signed by former heads of state, parliamentarians, Nobel Peace Laureates and senior UN and human rights officials, including: Micheline Calmy-Rey, the former President of Switzerland; Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland; Roza Otunbayeva, former President of Kyrgyzstan; Mary Robinson, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, and Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

“We have received urgent appeals against annexation sent by both Palestinian and Israeli women,” their statement said, adding that the calls resonated as annexation “is an existential threat ... to an already fragile global order”.

“Their strong appeals, while separate and distinct, have in common a sense of shared humanity, and a common rejection of subjugation and discrimination, oppression and violence,” it said.

The annexation plan would extend sovereignty to roughly 30 per cent of the West Bank, covering most of the Jordan Valley and hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements.

US President Donald Trump’s proposal calls for Israeli sovereignty over about 30 per cent of the West Bank – land on which Israel has built settlements for decades – as well as the creation of a Palestinian state under strict conditions.

The Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and have rejected Mr Trump’s plan, saying it would deny them a viable state.

Much of the international community sees Israel’s settlements as illegal. Israel disputes this, citing historical and biblical ties to the West Bank, as well as security needs.

“Annexation is a breach of international law and the UN Charter, and of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions,” the statement from female leaders said.

They said they support the Palestinian and Israeli women’s call against unilateral annexation and “back their efforts to prevent its disastrous consequences”.

Updated: July 2, 2020 04:17 AM

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