The timetable set for itself by Israel’s Netanyahu-Gantz coalition government provides for moving formally to annex to Israel large parts of the Palestinian West Bank this week, on 1 July.
Annexing large chunks of what is now “Area C”, under Israel control, will create new barriers to an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, other than in the sham form of a string of disconnected patches of land (Palestinian-inhabited cities, towns, villages) surrounded on all sides by Israeli territory and connected with each other only by Israeli-supervised channels.
It still remains possible that the Israeli government may delay, allowing a little more time for mobilisation against this obstruction to the possibility of a democratic peace settlement recognising Palestinian rights.
Benny Gantz, now holding the title of Israel’s “Alternate Prime Minister”, said on 29 June that before annexation, “people must be returned to their jobs and the coronavirus must be dealt with”. Israel has a second wave of infections.
There have been anti-annexation rallies across Israel. The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has warned of a return to guerrilla warfare, though whether it has the means is doubtful.
A protest demonstration in Jericho on 22 June drew not only angry Palestinians, but the United Nations peace envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, the EU representative, and British, Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Jordanian diplomats. Mladenov spoke at the protest.
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, has called for Britain, as a move against annexation, to block imports of goods from Israel’s West Bank settlements. This sort of focused sanction against the occupation of the West Bank has possibilities of leverage for a democratic two-states outcome which the call for boycotting Israel as such cannot have.
The main international backer for the annexation move is US President Donald Trump. Netanyahu is keen to get it done before November’s US presidential election.