In an article in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a plea to the Israeli government not to annex parts of the West Bank and to instead return to the negotiating table.Wednesday marked the earliest date promised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to establish sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
"There is another way," urged Johnson, pushing for the renewal of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.
"While I understand the frustration felt by both sides, it is our duty to take advantage of the energy of this moment in order to return another time to the negotiating table and to strive for a solution. This will demand compromises from both sides," said Johnson.
"I am not underestimating the challenges standing in the way of achieving a lasting peace. But I still believe that the only way to achieve true and lasting security for Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, is through a solution that allows for justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians," stressed Johnson in the Yediot Aharonot article. "I refuse to believe that this is impossible."
"I am proud of Britain's contribution to the establishment of Israel with the Balfour Declaration in 1917. But it will remain unfinished until a solution is found that will provide lasting justice and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians," warned Johnson. "The only way to achieve this is for both sides to return to the negotiating table. This must be our goal. Annexation will only distance us from it."The British Prime Minister stressed that Britain is one of the few United Nations member states that supports and defends Israel "from unjustified and totally disproportionate criticism."
"I am an ardent defender of Israel. There are few goals that are closer to my heart than ensuring that its citizens are protected from the threat of terror and antisemitic incitement. Britain has always stood by Israel and it's right to exist in peace and security - like every other nation," wrote Johnson.
"I followed with great sadness the proposals for annexing Palestinian territory. As a friend, admirer and supporter of Israel for many years, I fear that these proposals won't achieve their goal of securing Israel's borders, and will even be against [Israel's] long term interests."
The prime minister warned that plans to annex parts of the West Bank would violate international law and threaten Israel's security and peace efforts.
"Annexation would be a violation of international law," said Johnson, adding that Britain would not recognize changes to the 1967 lines, unless they are agreed upon by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. "I hope from the bottom of my heart that the annexation will not happen."
Johnson warned that annexation would put the improving relations between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world at risk. "Israel's enemies will take advantage of this situation and use it against anyone who longs for progress in the Middle East," added Johnson.