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

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - 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.

Palestinian protesters wave flags as Israeli troops take position during a protest against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah. Reuters

Now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has secured a new term in office, there’s little to prevent him from annexing large parts of the West Bank as early as this summer. AP

An Israeli soldier stands guard during a tour made by Israeli parliament members in the Jordan Valley near the Jewish settlement of Maale Efrayim. Reuters

Israeli soldiers take position as Palestinian demonstrators gather during a protest against expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. AP

King Abdullah (r) of Transjordan on May 13, 1948 in Amman with Abed Al Rahman Azzam, the secretary general of the Arab League and Abd Al Elah Ibn Ali, the Prince Regent of Iraq, the day before the beginning of the first Arab-Israeli War. AFP

Palestinians surrender to Israeli soldiers in June 1967 in the occupied territory of the West Bank after Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt and Syria and seized the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in Syria as well as the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem. AFP

A Palestinian child plays in a refugee camp in Jordan on June 23, 1967. AFP

PLO chairman Yasser Arafat delivers a speech to the Palestine National Council meeting to make the historic proclamation of a Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied territories and to recognize Israel in the Palace of Nations conference hall on November 12, 1988, in Algiers. AFP

US President Bill Clinton stands between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin as they shake hands for the first time on September 13, 1993 at the White House. AFP

Hussein Ibn Talal, King of Jordan and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin shake hands after they exchanged the documents of the Peace Treaty at Beit Gabriel conference centre on November 10, 1994 on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the Palestinian leadership meeting and threatened to end security coordination with Israel and the United States, saying Israeli annexation would ruin chances for peace. AFP

Houses in the Israeli settlement of settlement of Kedumim are seen in the foreground as part of the Palestinian city of Nablus is seen in the background (far left) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reuters

Israel's controversial concrete barrier (C) separating the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov (foreground) in the northern part of east Jerusalem and the Palestinian area of al-Ram (background) in the occupied West Bank. AFP

An Israeli activist holds a banner during a protest against the US peace plan for the Middle East, in front of the US ambassador's residence in Jerusalem, on May 15, 2020, as Palestinians commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the 1948 Nakba or "catastrophe". AFP

A Palestinian shepherd tends to his camels on arid land considered to be in "Area C" (under Israeli security and administrative control), southeast of Yatta town in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. AFP

A general view of the Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh, as seen from the Palestinian village of Azmout near the West Bank City of Nablus. EPA

File photo: The West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Michmash. AP

“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 ’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 1, 2020 07:42 PM

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