Elders issue scathing condemnation of annexation plans by Israel

A group of former global leaders known as The Elders decried Israel’s new West Bank annexation plan, calling the proposal an affront to international law that further dims the prospect of regional peace and represents “a unilateral repudiation of the two-state solution.” The new statement from The Elders, an independent group founded by the late Nelson Mandela, is the latest example of an increasing chorus of repudiation of the Trump administration-approved plan to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank that advanced as part of a coalition deal forged between Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist Benny Gantz. The annexation could happen as soon as July.

Fulfulling that proposal would be disastrous, said The Elders, instead calling for “meaningful dialogue” to kickstart a new peace initiative. “The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can only ever be solved by finding a solution that guarantees peace, security, rights, and dignity to both peoples,” said Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Unilaterally seizing territory and ignoring international law achieves precisely the opposite. Such a move betrays both the interests of Israeli citizens and the ideals of the State’s founders,” said Robinson.

As the Associated Press reported last week that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet with Netanyahu this week, with a focus of the trip expected to be the annexation plan, reported the AP. Alone among most governments, the Trump administration has said it will support the annexation of West Bank territory claimed by the Palestinians for an eventual state as long as Israel agrees to enter peace talks with the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has firmly rejected the so-called “vision for peace,” as has the Arab League.

“If the joint mapping of Palestinian lands to be seized by the Israeli government continues, the standing of the United States in the international community will be further damaged. The West Bank belongs to Palestine, and any changes should be mutually agreed upon,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an Elder Emeritus. According to Ban Ki-moon, deputy chair of The Elders and former Secretary-General of the U.N., the plan should spur global outrage. “The principles of international law are the bedrock of our global order,” he said. “They provide a framework for defending rights and exercising power that is crucial to all global challenges. Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank would not only be an act of aggressive folly, it would have a destructive influence on global rights and norms. I call on the whole world to speak out against this damaging agenda.”