RAMALLAH

Israeli plan to annex more land from the occupied Palestinian territory of West Bank will bring a new calamity for Palestinians, similar to their mass exodus in 1948, known as Nakba, say thinkers and prominent politicians.

“The annexation of Jordan Vally is an attempt to complete the catastrophe of 1948 and to completely liquidate the Palestinian cause,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The 72nd anniversary of Nakba or cataclysm has come at a time when an extremist right-wing government in Israel is bent to expand its territory to all of historic Palestine.

Ashrawi who served as an official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace process in the early 90s, blamed the US government, saying it was a partner in crime at a time when the world was preoccupied with the outbreak of coronavirus.

She, however, hoped that the European countries will speak against the annexation.

“There are some international moves and threats to Israel. There are European countries that will move and will not remain silent in the face of annexation. In addition to Jordan’s recent threat to Israel in case of implementing the annexation which poses an existential threat because the annexation will be applied on the Jordanian border also,” she said.

Ashrawi added that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has urged all the international institutions to protect the Palestinian cause for the sake of adhering to international laws and norms.

The PLO has asked the European countries to take an urgent proactive step to prevent Israeli move.

“There are clear messages to Israel that Europe will not be silent about the annexation,” she said.

She blamed Israel for carrying out ethnic cleansing in Jordan Valley and destroying everything that belongs to Palestinians there. As many as 50,000 Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley own about 50,000 dunums (12,355 acres) of agriculture lands.

Jordan Valley and Palestinian food security

These lands constitute half of the total agricultural lands providing food security to Palestinians in the West Bank. The Jordan Valley attends to nearly 60% of the vegetable requirements of Palestinian areas.

According to Israeli plans, the annexation will take place on July 1, as agreed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new-found ally Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White party.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with its plans, which will further undermine the two-state solution.

The annexation comes as part of US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” plan, which was announced on Jan. 28. It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank.

The plan states the establishment of a Palestinian state in the form of an archipelago connected through bridges and tunnels.

Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30-40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem.

The plan has drawn widespread criticism from the Arab world and was rejected by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which urged all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form.

Abdel-Sattar Qassem, of Al-Najah University in Nablus, said he does not expect the Palestinian Authority to take a much stronger position to oppose this plan.

“The annexation will pass as the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem passed, and US administration recognition of the legitimacy of the settlements, “he said.

“The Authority will issue statements but will not take steps on the ground, “he added.

Mahmoud Abbas said that if Israel will not abide by the agreements, the Authority will also walk out from these agreements.

But Qasem said the Authority should have canceled these agreements way back in 1990 because Israel has used them as a cover to implement its policies. He said that the Palestinian Authority did not present any strategy to confront the occupation.

“Israel wants land without people and the next stage will witness pressure in all of the West Bank regions by restricting them politically and economically to force people to emigrate.”

“Some Arabs will remain in Jordan Valley, who will be used as laborers, to help Israeli economy, “he added.

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