The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is alarmed at plans to annex the parts of West Bank and the Jordan Valley occupied by Israel. The plan, initiated by United States President, Donald Trump, and now adopted by the Israeli coalition Government, is scheduled to come into action as early as 1 July 2020. This move could be a fatal blow to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and would have grave consequences for the Palestinians. It could pose an existential threat to Israel by causing regional destabilisation and entails a serious breach of international law. The IBAHRI joins the United NationsArab LeagueEuropean Union and multiple other international institutions, civil society organisations, and individual states in opposing the plan.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996 – 2006), the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘The IBAHRI is deeply concerned at the current plan to formally annex territories in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley as it constitutes an infringement of international law.’The formal annexation of the West Bank comes after the creation of 220 settlements in the area over many decades. These settlements were found to be unlawful by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (2004) and in breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In addition, this planned formal annexation would render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state and presents a unilateral resolution to the conflict. Annexation of territory in any context is a breach of the well-established principles governing international law, and such an appropriation is not fitting in a modern society. Since World War II, there have been only three cases of annexation around the world. The proper mechanism for dealing with land settlements is within peace processes with mutual agreement. Article 41(2) International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts sets out the principle that nations which are not involved in a conflict or issue should refrain from recognising as lawful serious breaches of international law.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and immediate past secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg, said: ‘Israel has a duty to respect international law, including the prohibition of the use of force under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people as found in Article 1(2) . The proposed move is likely to increase regional instability. The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to cut security ties with Israel should the annexation come about. Similarly, Jordan, another key regional player, threatened to review its relationship with Israel. The European Union has stated that it will not recognise Israeli annexation. We therefore strongly urge Israel to drop these plans.’

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