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Welsh Bishops voice opposition to West Bank annexation

14 September 2020


An Israeli soldier aims at Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron, on Friday, after clashes broke out during demonstrations against the Israeli annexation plan

An Israeli soldier aims at Palestinian protesters in the West Bank city of Hebron, on Friday, after clashes broke out during demonstrations against th...

THE Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies, has called on public bodies, including Churches, to “uphold their ethical and legal responsibilities” over the threatened annexation of the West Bank.

Archbishop Davies was the lead signatory of a statement, published on Friday, which urges Churches, local authorities, universities, and businesses “to guarantee they are not complicit in further entrenching Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people, and that their practices of investment and procurement reflect their ethical and legal responsibilities to uphold an international system of law”.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are still waiting to hear if or when the Israeli government will proceed with its plan to annex about 30 per cent of the territory (News, 15 May; Comment, 29 May). Under President Trump’s peace plan, announced in January, about one third of the West Bank would be placed under Israeli sovereignty.

Israel argues that the move is to bring existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank under proper Israeli sovereignty.

On Tuesday, however, at a ceremony at the White House presided over by President Trump, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers signed the US-brokered “Abraham Accords” in front of more than 700 guests. The accords formally normalise relations between the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel.

Until recently Israel was, in the Arab world, only recognised by Jordan and Egypt because of regional stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The wording of both deals in the accords has been kept secret, and the joint statement released this week did not say whether they would lead to the suspension of Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank, as was previously reported.

Both deals have been rejected by the Palestinians as a betrayal.

On Wednesday, Israeli warplanes attacked military sites belonging to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, in response to rockets fired from the coastal enclave into Israeli towns, Palestinian security sources reported.

The statement signed by Archbishop Davies was also signed by the Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Andy John; the Bishop of St Davids, Dr Joanna Penberthy; and representatives of charities, trade unions, religious groups, and civil-society organisations. It continues: “As the Israeli government moves towards illegally annexing additional Palestinian land, the necessity for accountability and collective responsibility in maintaining an international rules-based system of law becomes paramount.

“The actions of the Israeli government are not only an attack on the rights and futures of Palestinians, but also against the very foundations of international law. Official annexation would culminate years of gradual de facto annexation — which has been taking place through the appropriation of land, forcible displacement of Palestinians, and the transfer of an Israeli settler population to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

It calls on the international community “to ensure there is a cost to defying international law in the context of settlement expansion. This mirrors Palestinian civil society calls for effective measures to stop annexation and Israel’s ongoing infringements on their human rights.”

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