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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson writes op-ed for Israeli newspaper warning against West Bank annexation Open in fullscreen

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson writes op-ed for Israeli newspaper warning against West Bank annexation

Johnson reiterated his assertion that Israeli annexations constitute a "violation of international law" [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 July, 2020

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In an op-ed for Israel's top newspaper, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson opposed Israel's annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denounced Israel's annexation of swathes of the occupied West Bank in an op-ed in Hebrew published Wednesday by one of Israel's leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.

In a direct appeal to the Israeli people, Johnson reiterated his support for Israel but said he strongly opposed its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.

"I am an avid defender of Israel," wrote Johnson. "Our commitment to Israel's security is firm as long as I am Prime Minister of the United Kingdom."

Johnson wrote that he has "sadly" followed annexation proposals, which he believed would fail to secure Israel's borders, as well as "jeopardise" its prospects of normalisation with Arab and Muslim-majority states.

"I want to see a solution that will be right for both Israelis and Palestinians," the op-ed reads. "Annexation would be a violation of international law." 

Johnson stated that if annexations were to take place, the UK would "not recognise" any changes to Israel and Palestine's 1967 territorial lines, unless agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians. He also urged both sides to "return to the negotiating table".

"I still believe that the only way to achieve real and lasting security for Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, is through a solution that enables justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians," wrote Johnson. "I refuse to believe that it is impossible."

Johnson concluded the op-ed by stating he is "very proud of Britain's contribution to the founding of Israel through the Balfour Declaration in 1917".

The UK prime minister's piece follows that of the UAE's ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaiba, who wrote his own op-ed for Yedioth Ahronoth last month opposing annexation.

Al-Otaiba said Israel's annexation plans would "certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with UAE".

Other UAE officials have said that relations between Abu Dhabi and Israel might remain unaffected by the annexation.

Johnson has joined a chorus of British and European officials attempting to discourage Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank.

Last week, Labour Party Shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy, said imports of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank must be banned by the UK if the Israeli government moves ahead with annexation plans. Her proposal was backed by Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said the UK government "should have made clear (to Israel) there is going to be a price" over annexations, with trade agreements between the two countries possibly being affected.

Last month, hundreds of European MPs signed a letter against Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Though most of the UK signatories were left-leaning, former Conservative Party members also added their names to the letter.

Also last month, a group of prominent British Jews signed an open letter addressed to Israel's ambassador to the UK expressing "concern and alarm" over Israel's annexation plans.

Israel's plans to annex approximately 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, unworkable Palestinian state.

The Palestinians have rejected the plan outright, while world leaders have urged Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt annexation of parts of the West Bank.

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