Stop the Annexation Fanatics. Impose Sanctions on Israel

The only international response to the brazen Trump-Israel plan must be concrete action to stop Israel’s West Bank annexation, and full-fledged apartheid

Israel’s colonial project in Palestine was never about a temporary Israeli presence. 53 years since it occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, Israel is now moving ahead with its de-jure annexation of several other integral parts of occupied Palestine, following its annexation of occupied Jerusalem.

Such a move is a confirmation of Israel’s arrogance and non-compliance with a multitude of UN resolutions, including UNSCR 242, adopted in November 1967, which stated the inadmissibility of acquiring land through the use of force.

Israel’s half-century long record of systematic violations of Palestinian national and human rights is a testament to its commitment to colonial expansion and not to the achievement of peace. The rest of the world now has another measure of explicit evidence.

The U.S.-Israel plan is a blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international law and order and a confirmation that Donald Trump’s ‘Vision for Peace‘ is really about turning Israel’s occupation of Palestine into a permanent annexation, while denying the people of Palestine their inalienable right to self-determination. 

President Trump’s Annexation Plan is a brazen, blunt roadmap to imposing a reality of one state with two systems, a full-fledged apartheid regime, violating the pillars of freedom, justice, and equality.

In this context, the Palestinian leadership’s announcement that Palestine is absolved of all agreements signed with Israel didn’t come out of thin air. Palestine has remained committed to the principles of the Middle East Peace Process throughout the past quarter of a century. But Israel has still seized every opportunity to defeat the achievement of peace, turning this process into a total failure.

Accordingly, Palestine’s recent decision is a rejection of this failure and an affirmation that our nation can’t and will not pay the cost of Israel’s occupation, illegal policies, and violations of its obligations under signed agreements. It’s time for a change of course, through which the international community will hold Israel accountable.

It will no longer be possible to defend Israel’s violations and illegal policies against the land and people of Palestine, which are, in fact, a violation of Article II of its association agreement with the European Union, Israel’s leading trade partner. This article conditions the applicability of the agreement to respecting human rights.

What “shared values” do certain EU officials mean when defending Israel as it systematically attacks a rule-based world order? It is absurd to condemn Israel’s colonial-settlement project while still welcoming their services and products in international markets that primarily sustain Israeli apartheid.The international community can stop annexation, but only if it applies the same concrete measures that it has continually refused to adopt. Stopping annexation begins by imposing sanctions against a country that has never respected its most basic obligations under UN resolutions, signed agreements, and international treaties.

Unlike what Israel itself claims, its colonial-settlement enterprise is neither permanent nor irreversible. The family of nations should not yield to Israel’s racism, incitement, and violence. Instead, they should end its unparalleled culture of impunity. 

Policies of accountability against the Israeli occupation are essential. But countries such as Germany, Hungary, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S. are doing the opposite: preventing the International Criminal Court from investigating crimes committed in occupied Palestine. That effort is easily taken as an endorsement of Israel’s illegal policies that have allowed it to expand its colonial-settlements to over 600,000 settlers today.

Those who argue for “more carrots” for relations with the new Israeli government have yet to acknowledge what the other “carrots” did create over the past 53 years: an apartheid regime. The database released by the United Nations listing the companies profiting from the Israeli occupation should be taken seriously. These companies should change course or face boycotts and legal consequences. And Israel should face sanctions. 

Countries, alliances and blocs must systematically review of all agreements signed with Israel, to ensure that they do not contribute to the occupation and domination of Palestinian land and lives.

For example, several of Israel’s Free Trade Agreements, which provide tax exemptions to settlement products, should be suspended. The same applies to the presence of several Christian Zionist organizations and other “charitable organizations” funding Israeli settlements in countries such as the US, UK, France, Canada, or Australia, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF), Ateret Kohanim and the Israel Land Fund.

These organizations should be held accountable by the governments of countries where they’re based. “Charities” shouldn’t be allowed to fund Israel’s illegal enterprise from their soil.    

The Israel-U.S. Annexation Plan is not just the outcome of a group of fanatics that disregard international law and Palestinian rights, but a consequence of decades of impunity. We have been contacting governments worldwide demanding action to stop Israel’s annexation.

We have reached leading international players to call for an international conference to facilitate a constructive and meaningful peace process based on the implementation of international law and relevant UN resolutions.

This week European countries will mark forty years since the issuance of the Venice Declaration, calling for the end of Israel’s occupation and the fulfillment of Palestinian rights. After decades of warning signs, it is overdue time to pursue the only path left to move towards a just and lasting peace, including the recognition of the State of Palestine, and the imposition of sanctions against Israel and its occupation.

Dr. Saeb Erekat is the Secretary General of the PLO and Chief Palestinian negotiator. Twitter: @ErakatSaeb