Jericho (UNA-OIC) – Hundreds of Palestinians, with the participation of a broad international presence, gathered in Jericho on Monday, as part of the popular activities to reject and protest Israel’s unilateral annexation plans of large parts of the occupied West Bank.
The mass gathering was attended by representatives of the international community, headed by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, European Union representative, consuls and representatives of foreign countries, including the British Consul General in Jerusalem, the Chinese ambassador, and the Jordanian ambassador who will speak on behalf of the Arab ambassadors.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov affirmed in a speech he delivered at the mass gathering, the United nations rejection of Israel’s annexation plans.
He said that the UN and all representatives of the international community who are present at the mass gathering believe that annexation is against international law, and if it happens it may kill the very idea that peace and statehood for the Palestinian people can be achieved through negotiations.
Mladenov said addressing the attendances of representatives of member states of the UN: We have no time to lose, in the coming days and weeks we must do everything to uphold the idea that through negotiations the Palestinians and the Israeli people can live in peace. He added that we must stand against unilateral actions and we must ourselves take actions in support of peace.
The coordinator called on all of the international community to join the UN Secretary General in his appeal to our colleagues and friends in the Middle East, the Russian Federation, the European Union, and the United States to join in restarting meaningful negotiations between Israel and Palestine for peace based on international law and in line with UN resolutions. “We cannot allow to lose one second, one minute, one hour,” he said.
Meanwhile, EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said that the bloc position is very clear: first we consider unilateral annexation would constitute a serious violation of international law, reiterating that the EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem.
“Other than those agreed by both sides and in line with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, we do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967, we will therefore closely monitor the situation and its broader implications and we will act accordingly,” he added.
He stressed that unilateral annexation would cause real and irreparable damage to the prospect of a negotiated two-state solution, reiterating EU’s continued support to the two-state solution based on international parameters and on the 1967 lines with Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, and viable state of Palestine living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.
Burgsdorff said that the high representative of the EU has strongly urged Israel to refrain from any unilateral decisions that would lead to the annexation of any additional parts of the occupied Palestinian territory.
He stressed that the EU will continue to support the resumption of a meaningful negotiation process towards the two-state solution; the only viable and realistic way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both peoples, affirming the EU’s commitment to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-state solution.
“The unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties, this includes notably the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, the refugees question, and of course security,” Burgsdorff said.
He added that from an EU perspective annexation would inevitably have consequences for the close relationships recurrently enjoyed with Israel, adding that the EU has its own obligations and responsibilities under international and EU law and as stated by the high representative that steps toward annexation if implemented could not pass unchallenged.
Japanese Representative to Palestine Masayuki Majushi said in a speech he also delivered at the mass gathering that Japan is concerned over the Israeli unilateral plan to annex parts of the West Bank, stressing that its implementation would destroy the possibility of building confidence and achieving a two-state solution, which constitutes a threat to the region.
Majushi stressed that unilateral steps have a negative impact on international efforts, expressing hope that Israel would not put obstacles in the way of the peace process. He said that Japan is ready to have a serious role in the efforts of the international community and in supporting the Palestinian people.
In turn, Ambassador of Jordan to Palestine Muhammad Abu Wandi said that Israel’s annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank means that it chose the conflict over peace, affirming that Israel will bear the consequences of this decision alone, and not only in terms of its relations with Jordan, but also on all efforts exerted in the region and by the international community to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.
He said that Jordan firmly rejects any Israeli decision to annex parts of occupied Palestinian lands, stressing that such a decision cannot pass without a response.
On his part, the Russian Ambassador to the State of Palestine Gocha Buachidze said that annexation will undermine the peace process, and its implementation will prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
He stressed that the situation requires the urgent resumption of negotiations under the sponsorship of the United Nations in order to reach a comprehensive agreement based on the United Nations resolutions and the Arab peace initiative.
Israeli forces shut down two military checkpoints in the northern Jordan Valley, preventing hundreds of others coming from the northern parts of the West Bank from crossing the checkpoint to take part in the mass gathering in Jericho.