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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

No to new Israeli land grab!

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

PALESTINIANS are calling on the international community to boycott Israel and recognise the Palestinian state if the Israeli government goes ahead with its plan to annex the Jordan Valley. The British government and its European allies have opposed the new Israeli move and the Arab League calls it a “new war crime” against the Palestinians. But the Zionist land grab was sanctioned by US foreign minister Mike Pompeo during his talks with the Israeli leadership in Tel Aviv this week.

The West Bank Palestinian government has bent over backwards to accommodate Israeli demands in the past. But the annexation of the Jordan Valley, which was spelt out in Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”, was a bridge too far for Palestinian Authority that administers the “autonomous” zone in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian premier Mohammad Ishtaye said that a united position by all world powers against Israel would lead to halting its measures aimed to annex parts of the West Bank.

“Condemnation statements do not work with Israel, the response to annexation must be actual boycott and the recognition of the Palestinian state over 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and honouring the right of return for Palestinian refugees,” Ishtaye said.

The Jordan Valley with its underground water reserves and fertile farm land comprises nearly 30 per cent of the West Bank’s total area. “The Palestinian state’s geography stands on this area, together with East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and all Palestinian territories,” Ishtaye said, adding “the Jordan Valley is our meeting point with Jordan, through which we go out to the world”.

This week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the leaders of the grand coalition in Tel Aviv to assure them of continued US support of Israel’s new “unity” government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party, has finally signed an agreement with his centre-right rival, General Benny Gantz of the Blue and White bloc, to form a power-sharing government that will impose direct Israeli sovereignty on parts of the occupied West Bank that it claims are “part of the historic lands of Israel”.

But the British government has distanced itself from the latest Israeli provocation that is in breach of the solemn treaty commitments the Zionist state made in 1993 when it agreed with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation – under the sponsorship of the USA and Russia – not to annex occupied territories.

Britain would not support an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank because it would make a two-state solution with the Palestinians more difficult to achieve, junior Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told parliament on Monday. “Our long-standing position is that we do not support the annexation of parts of the West Bank, and … doing so could make a sustainable two-state solution harder.”

This is a view also shared in parts of the European Union. The French are urging their EU allies to take a firm stand against the Israeli annexation and they’ve been backed by Belgium, Luxemburg and Ireland. But in the end all that the Palestinians will probably get will be the usual platitudes from Brussels because the EU is Israel’s top trading partner and any proposed sanctions will be vetoed by US imperialism’s staunchest allies inside the European bloc.

Meanwhile an Israeli sergeant was killed on Tuesday after a large rock was thrown at his head during a predawn raid in a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank. He was hit whilst taking part in an operation to arrest four Palestinians suspected of terrorism and stone-throwing. When the Israeli soldiers were escorting the four suspects, someone hurled the rock off a rooftop at the soldier who was fatally injured and pronounced dead in hospital.