Britain warns Israel against annexation

“Any changes to the status quo cannot be taken forward without an agreement negotiated by the parties themselves,” said a statement by the UK Foreign Office.
Sunday 02/02/2020
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain January 30. (Reuters)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain January 30. (Reuters)

LONDON - Britain warned Israel against seizing parts of the West Bank in line with US President Donald Trump’s peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians dubbed the Deal of the Century.

The UK Foreign Office expressed “concern” about reports that Israeli forces were preparing to annex parts of the West Bank.

“Any such unilateral moves would be damaging to renewed efforts to restart peace negotiations, and contrary to international law,” a statement from the UK Foreign Office said.

“Any changes to the status quo cannot be taken forward without an agreement negotiated by the parties themselves,” the statement added.

The United Kingdom initially appeared broadly supportive of the plan, with Trump confirming that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had given his backing for the deal during a telephone call.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also issued a strong endorsement. “This is clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort,” he said January 29.

“A peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that leads to peaceful coexistence could unlock the potential of the entire region and provide both sides with the opportunity for a brighter future,” he added, calling on the leaders of Israel and Palestine to work together to reach an agreement.

However, there appeared to be ambiguity in Britain’s position following comments January 30 to parliament by Foreign Office Minister Andrew Morrison, who said: “Of course, we welcome this plan. This doesn’t mean we endorse its contents.”

Morrison insisted that “these are not our plans” and that they were “not perfect,” adding that the Palestinians should view the publication of the US peace initiative as a good opportunity to return to the negotiating table.

Trump’s proposal envisions Israel annexing key parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley.

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