Israel’s dangerous provocations
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Israel has begun to draw up maps of land in the occupied West Bank that will be annexed in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan is yet another dangerous provocation. Netanyahu has claimed that the area would include all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley. What Israel conveniently forgets is that that only map that can be accepted by the international community as the map of Palestine is the map of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with occupied Jerusalem as its capital. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has indeed affirmed that unilateral Israeli steps to annex West Bank land would endanger US support for such plans, but considering the blind support extended by Washington to the occupation forces for years, one has to take the comment with a pinch of salt. Trump plan would allow Israel to annex all its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of occupied Jerusalem, and that too only if they meet nearly impossible conditions. If at all anything, the entire plan reeks of pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian bias. As per Trump’s plan, Israel would also maintain overriding security responsibility for the State of Palestine, including at the Palestinian state’s international border crossings.
The fact that the world community does not stand by Trump’s plan has also proved by its outright rejection by African leaders who have condemned the plan as illegitimate, taking advantage of an African Union (AU) summit to voice solidarity with the Palestinian cause. AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat made it clear that the plan unveiled in late January represented the “umpteenth violation of multiple United Nations and African Union resolutions”. He rightly stated that it was prepared without international consultation and that it “trampled on the rights of the Palestinian people”, a line that drew applause in the main hall at AU headquarters. The outgoing AU chair, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, has also reaffirmed that the Palestinian cause will always be in the hearts and minds of the people of Africa. Israeli harassment continues on varied fronts. The latest example is Israel imposing a ban on Palestinian agricultural exports. “Starting from today, export abroad of Palestinian agricultural product through the Allenby crossing will not be allowed,” COGAT, the Israel defence ministry unit that oversees civilian activities in the Palestinian territories, has stated. The Israeli-controlled Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank is the only route through which Palestinian goods can reach foreign markets. Sunday’s export ban came a week after Israel’s defence ministry halted all imports of agricultural products from the West Bank to Israel. The Palestinian Authority was forced to respond to that move by banning the import of Israeli produce, soft drinks and mineral water. Israel’s block on goods crossing the Allenby Bridge is a clear violation of all agreements between the two sides.