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Prominent British Jewish figures condemn Israel's West Bank annexation plans

Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank was met with much opposition [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 June, 2020

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Forty prominent British Jewish figures have written a letter opposing Israel's plans to annex the occupied West Bank.
A group of prominent British Jews have expressed "concern and alarm" over Israel's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in an open letter published by Haaretz on Saturday.

The letter, which was sent to Israel's ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, stated the 40 signatories - "committed Zionists and passionately outspoken friends of Israel" - believe the annexations would have "grave consequences for the Palestinian people" and are "incompatible with the notion of Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state".

The signatories said their sentiment is shared by "large numbers of the British Jewish community, including many in its current leadership" and urged Regev to convey their "unprecedented level of concern" to the Israeli government.

"We are not opposed to Israel taking unilateral steps if such steps were to enhance Israel’s security, advance peace and protect Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state," the letter reads. "Annexation proposals meet none of those criteria."

The signatories stated they have always sought to make a "more sympathetic environment" for Israel in the UK, but would be unable to "make the case" for West Bank annexations.

"Whether it starts with smaller pieces of land ... or large swathes of territory, and whether it is called 'annexation' or 'extending sovereignty,' annexation will make a principled global defence of Israel a near-impossible task," the letter read. 

The letter's signatories include former UK foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, scientist Robert Winston, philanthropist Vivien Duffield, lawyer Anthony Julius, former champion weightlifter and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott and historians Simon Montefiore and Simon Schama.

Israel's plans to annex one third of the West Bank was greenlighted by US President Donald Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century". The plan also envisages the creation of a severely restricted Palestinian state.

The plan was met with much opposition. While the Palestinians have rejected it outright, world leaders have urged Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt annexation plans.

However, Haaretz reported on Wednesday that Netanyahu told settler leaders he seeks to annex the West Bank without the conditions set in the US plan.

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