UN: Any Israeli annexation plan is illegal, whether limited or unlimited

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out amid reports that Israel would consider a partial annexation plan, such as areas of high population density known as the blocs.

A protester holds a placard as she stands next to Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israeli settlements in Beit Fajjar town south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem (photo credit: REUTERS)
A protester holds a placard as she stands next to Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israeli settlements in Beit Fajjar town south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Any Israeli West Bank annexation plan is illegal irrespective of whether it includes all or only some of the settlements, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet clarified on Monday.
Annexation is illegal. Period,” Bachelet said.
She spoke out amid reports that Israel weighed assuaging international and Palestinian objections to annexation by moving forward with a partial plan.
This would likely include the application of sovereignty over areas of high settler-population density, known as the blocs, rather than advancing an initiative that would annex the entire 30% of the West Bank as outlined under US President Donald Trump's peace plan.
Yamina MK and former justice minister Ayelet Shaked told Army Radio earlier in the day that the Jordan Valley would be excluded from Israel’s annexation plans.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has given up on the Jordan Valley” because of the opposition from the Arab world, she said.
Shaked charged that the sovereignty map included in Trump’s peace plan had been drawn up by Netanyahu. “He worked for three years for this plan, and he can make changes to it, as long as his coalition agrees,” she said.
In Geneva, Bachelet said that the objection to annexation is not related to the size of the territory, but is an illegal act whether it includes “30% of the West Bank, or 5%."
“The precise consequences of annexation cannot be predicted,” Bachelet said, “but they are likely to be disastrous for the Palestinians, for Israel itself, and for the wider region."
Such a step could harm the Palestinians by restricting their freedom of movement, cutting them off from humanitarian services, placing their population centers in enclaves, and contributing to the further expropriation of private Palestinian property, Bachelet said.
She further warned that annexation could place Palestinians at risk of forced population transfer.
Annexation is “likely to entrench, perpetuate and further heighten serious human rights violations that have characterized the conflict for decades,” Bachelet said.
“Even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed and the two populations brought into closer proximity,” Bachelet said.
Such annexation “will not change the obligations of Israel as occupying power towards the occupied population under international humanitarian or human rights law” and would harm the possibility of a two-state solution, Bachelet said.
“The shockwaves of annexation will last for decades, and will be extremely damaging to Israel, as well as to the Palestinians,” Bachelet warned. “However there is still time to reverse this decision.”

THE FOREIGN Ministry accused Bachelet yet once again of politicizing her office to attack Israel.
Bachelet spoke out unilaterally out of her own accord, thereby joining the Palestinian campaign against the US peace plan, the ministry said.
Israel long ago lost confidence in Bachelet’s ability to “promote human rights,” the ministry said. It recalled that in February, Israel had cut off ties with her office.
Overnight, Netanyahu indicated he supported the annexation of all 30% of the West Bank allowed under Trump’s plan, when he addressing a Christians United for Israel virtual conference. Trump’s plan provided Israel with defensible borders “including the strategic Jordan Valley,” the prime minister said.
With only two days left to go until July 1, the earliest date by which Netanyahu can apply sovereignty, no final decisions have been made with regard to the sovereignty map.
Any conversations about a partial annexation plan, which could include settlement blocs, have not necessarily included settler leaders.
“No one has spoken to us or shown us maps” for a partial annexation plan, Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel told The Jerusalem Post.
The question of when and how to apply sovereignty changes from minute to minute, he said.
His city of 38,000 people is located just five kilometers outside of Jerusalem, in the direction of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea.
When Israel speaks of retaining high Jewish-population areas of the West Bank, his settlement bloc is often one of the premier locations that come to mind.
Yet with all of the reports circulating about such a possibility, no one has picked up the phone to discuss this with him.
Kashriel's city has always enjoyed wide Israeli “consensus” and even international consensus when it comes to its future inclusion in Israel’s final borders.

FORMER PRIME minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke of the importance of placing Ma’aleh Adumim within Israel’s sovereign borders, Kashriel said. That was followed by former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who spoke of Ma’aleh Adumim as a bloc that should be within sovereign Israel.
He noted that even the grassroots 2003 Geneva Initiative, which was signed by PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabo and former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin, placed Ma’aleh Adumim within Israel’s sovereign borders in its map for a two-state resolution of the conflict. That placement excluded the unbuilt E1 section.
Both Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz met Wednesday with US special envoy Avi Berkowitz as well as member of the joint Israeli-US mapping committee Scott Leith, who is typically stationed in Washington, to discuss sovereignty plans. Gantz favors a phased annexation.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan invited Berkowitz to visit his are of the West Bank before sealing its fate by signing off on details of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
Dagan supports sovereignty, but not according to the dictates of the Trump plan.
He offered to show Berkowitz the Har Bracha and Elon Moreh settlements, Joseph’s Tomb, Mount Gerizim and Joshua’s altar on Mount Ebal, as well as the view from the Yitzhar settlement, where one can see the Hermon mountains that border Syria.
In a letter he wrote to Berkowitz, Dagan described how in the Bible, God came down to view the Tower of Babel before determining its fate, suggesting that the US envoy do likewise.
"Israel has the right to determine its own sovereign borders, but at the same time, it is important to underscore the significance of the US role in the process," Dagan wrote.
“We respect US President Donald Trump, who has been the best president for Israel and who, as you know, greatly loves Israel," he wrote.
As a representative of Israel’s great friend and ally, which is now in the process of determining its position on the matter of sovereignty, it is important that “you come and see the region,” Dagan told Berkowitz in his letter.