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Looming Annexation:
Israel’s Denial of Palestine’s Right to Exist

June 2020

Download this resource

The timing of this Negotiation Affairs Department (NAD) publication coincides with the impending annexation announced by the recently formed Government of Israel. We have embarked on this publication not because of the novelty of illegal Israeli annexation of Palestinian land, but because of the urgency -now more than ever -of raising our voices against Israeli annexation that jeopardizes the viability of the State of Palestine and the right to self-determination, and entrenches occupation with its violations of Palestinian human rights.

The intertwine in politics: annexation, the daily life of Palestinians, and the future of the Palestinian state, is presented in the three parts of this publication with one unified and clear message by all contributing authors: “Annexation is illegal; it ends the two state solution, legalizes apartheid, and has
to be stopped”.

Part One covers a historical background and analysis. As a chief negotiator who has been engaged in the peace process since the early 1990s, I open this part with a contextual background on annexation focusing on Palestinian-Israeli relations under annexation and moving forward. My main message on the illegality of annexation is that: “It is Palestine’s responsibility to do everything possible to stop annexation, dismantle Israel’s colonial-settlement enterprise, and achieve freedom and independence.”

Part Two comprises eight articles on annexation and its impact on different sectors and Palestinian potential….
Part Three has three articles that cover Palestinian, regional, and international responses to annexation….
This publication targets all those interested to know more about the illegality of annexation and its impact on the lives of the Palestinian people, and their aspirations for an independent State of Palestine with an end to occupation.
While the articles do not cover all aspects of annexation and its impact, I hope the compiled articles are useful in reflecting the increasing dangers of occupation-annexation. These challenges require a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people and action by the international community, including those in the peace camp in Israel.

The lack of accountability and impunity enjoyed by Israel for so long should not continue to be tolerated.

Despite our everyday difficulties and occasional loss of hope, we move on with resolve and resilience. We will not give up. One day soon we will be free.

Saeb Erakat
Chief Negotiator and Head of NAD



Contextual Background with Analysis: Annexation
Dr. Saeb Erakat
Illegal Annexation Over the Years: Focus on Current Scenarios
Fatina Hodali and Ashraf Khatib
Analysis of the Geopolitical Aspects of the

Trump Plan
Dr. Jad Isaac and Suhail Khalilieh

Opportunity Cost of a Belligerent Occupation and Incremental Annexation – Dr. Nabeel Kassis
Annexation and Tourism – Dr. Hamdan Taha
Annexing Air – Dr. Sabri Saidam
Annexation :The Ghettoization of Bethlehem

– Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
Palestine’s Water - De Facto Annexed since 1967
– Dr. Shaddad Al Attili
Annexation and Culture – Mahmoud Muna
Annexation and Human Rights – Dr. Susan Power
Annexation and Threats to the Two States
– Amb. Issa Kassissieh

Defiance and Resilience against Annexation and Subjugation: Palestinian Options – Samar Awadallah
Looming Annexation: Concerns and Questions
– Dr. Varsen Aghabekian
Analysis : Regional and International Reactions to Annexation – Xavier Abu Eid

Download this resource



Annexation: What happened (and didn’t) on July 1?
+972 Magazine  •  3 July 2020
After months of anticipation, July 1 — the date the Israeli government had pledged to begin advancing formal annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank — ended with very little fanfare. Disputes and unpreparedness within the Israeli government and the settler movement, along with growing international criticism in recent weeks, appear to have stalled the annexation process. The lack of dramatic action, however, was still in itself a cause for conversation.

On Wednesday, I spoke with two experts to sum up the day’s news and evaluate the ways forward: Diana Buttu, a lawyer and political analyst who served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team from 2000 to 2005; and Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, a human rights lawyer and litigator specializing in violations committed by state and
corporate actors in the occupied territories.
See the written report on the webinar
See the webinar

Palestinian Civil Society Reiterates Call for Immediate Targeted Sanctions to Stop Israel’s Annexation and Apartheid
Al Haq  •  1 July 2020
Israel’s extremist government decided today to keep everyone in the dark about if and how it will make use of the “golden opportunity” offered by the Trump administration to embark on de jure annexation of large swathes of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. No one should be misled, however. Israel will continue to quietly de facto annex occupied Palestinian territory, as it has done for decades, while trying to appease its Western allies.

But as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said, “Annexation is illegal. Period. Any annexation.”

Hundreds of international law scholars agree. They write that Israeli annexations of occupied territory are “null and void, entail consequences of international wrongfulness, and – under certain  circumstances – lead to individual international criminal liability,” regardless whether such annexations are effected “through ‘extension of sovereignty,’ ‘extension of law, jurisdiction, and administration,’ or explicit annexation.” They concluded, “de facto annexation entails the same legal consequences as de jure annexation.”

For over a thousand European parliamentarians, “Failure to adequately respond [to Israeli annexation] would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law,” undermining “the most basic norms guiding international relations, including the UN Charter.”
See the full article

The Problem With Israel’s Annexation Is Its Brutality, Not Its Optics
We need strong condemnation of Israel’s annexation plans, not handwringing over bad P.R.
In These Times  •  1 July 2020  •  by Sandra Tamari

Palestinians have been forced to endure Israel’s policies of expulsion and land
appropriation for over 70 years.

With Trump's approval, Israel plans to formally annex—or steal—large swaths of
Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and permanently rule over Palestinians
without giving them citizenship or basic rights. There has been much U.S. media attention paid to condemnations of the annexation plans from supporters of Israel. Robert Satloff, head of the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, a hawkish, pro-Israel think tank, wrote a piece in the Washington Post titled, “I’m an Ardent Zionist and I am Opposed to Annexation.” (Zionism refers to the political ideology that supports the realization of a Jewish-ruled ethno-state in Palestine.) Islamophobe and right-wing Zionist Daniel Pipes in May wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times titled, “Annexing the West Bank Would Hurt Israel.” These stories might give the impression that criticism of Israel’s belligerent act of aggression is alive and well in the United States.
See the full article


Palestine and Israel: Mapping an annexation
Al Jazeera  •  26 June 2020
The current map of Palestine is often described as resembling "Swiss cheese". Over the past century it has been carved up, walled-in and filled with hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements and military checkpoints.

Now, in the latest round of Israel's ongoing occupation and policy of land-grabs this map could become even more disjointed. On July 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce Israel's annexation of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.

Annexation is a term used when a state unilaterally incorporates another territory within its borders. Annexing the Jordan Valley would mean that Israel would officially consider it part of the state of Israel.

"International law is very clear: annexation and territorial conquest are forbidden by the Charter of the United Nations," said Michael Lynk, the UN independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

To understand what annexation will look like on the ground and how we got here, Al Jazeera has compiled a collection of historic and present-day maps for you to explore.
See the maps

Quick Facts: Israeli Annexation of Occupied Land & International Law
IMEU  •  22 June 2020

Annexation & international law
    •    Under international law, it is illegal for countries to annex occupied territories acquired by military force. According to Chapter 1, Article  2 of the Charter of the United Nations: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” 
    •    When Russia occupied and annexed the Crimea in 2014,  the UN and international community, including the US, condemned the move as a dangerous violation of international law and imposed sanctions. 
    •    According to international law, if a country annexes occupied territory the people living there are still considered to be under military occupation and protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states: 
See the full Fact Sheet

Quick Facts: Israel’s West Bank Settlement Enterprise
IMEU  •  22 June 2020
Note: Under international law, the occupied Palestinian West Bank and adjoining occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem are considered one territorial unit. This fact sheet focuses specifically on the West Bank. In 1980, Israel officially annexed occupied East Jerusalem in a move that has been repeatedly rejected by the UN and rest of the international community as illegal.

Israel’s West Bank Settlements: By the Numbers (June 2020)
Approximately 420,000: Number of Israeli settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. (Additionally, there are more than 215,000 Israeli settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in East Jerusalem.) Approximately 11,000 of the settlers in the West Bank are located in the Jordan Valley.

131: Number of official Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, an area smaller than the state of Delaware. There are also approximately 110 so-called settlement “outposts,” or new small settlements built without official approval but with the support and assistance of the Israeli government. Officials settlements include 11 large so-called “blocs” with vastly expanded and largely empty municipal limits, strategically located to sever large Palestinian population centers from one another and divide the West Bank into separate cantons that can be easily controlled. They are: Ma’aleh Adumim (outside of East Jerusalem), Gush Etzion (between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem), Ariel (in the northern West Bank), Samaria, North Samaria, Beitar Illit, Eastern Etzion, Binyamin, Kiryat Sefer, South Hebron Hills, and Jordan Valley. 
See the full Fact Sheet

Israeli annexation of parts of the Palestinian West Bank would break international law – UN experts call on the international community to ensure accountability
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  •  16 June 2020

The agreement by the new coalition Government of Israel to annex significant parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank after 1 July would violate a cornerstone principle of international law and must be meaningfully opposed by the international community, UN experts said today. Forty-seven of the independent Special Procedures mandates appointed by the Human Rights Council issued the following statement:

“The annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible. The international community has prohibited annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and widespread human suffering.

Israel’s stated plans for annexation would extend sovereignty over most of the Jordan Valley and all of the more than 235 illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This would amount to approximately 30 percent of the West Bank. The annexation of this territory was endorsed by the American Peace to Prosperity Plan, released in late January 2020.
See the full statement

Explainer: 5 Things to Know About the Trump-Netanyahu Apartheid Map
IMEU  •  10 June 2020
The Trump administration’s diplomatic plan for Palestine/Israel gives a green light to Israel to annex about a third of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, in contravention of international law and longstanding official US policy prior to Trump taking office. The following map and explainer provide an overview of the plan. It was produced for by cartographer Jan de Jong, who previously produced maps for the Palestine Liberation Organization-Negotiations Affairs Department and the Foundation for Middle East Peace, based on the map and details released as part of the Trump plan document, “Peace to Prosperity," in January 2020.

    1.    Major Palestinian cities and towns in the occupied West Bank will be divided and separated into about half a dozen small, isolated enclaves. Israel will also continue to separate Palestinians in the West Bank from those in adjacent occupied East Jerusalem and both of them from Palestinians in Gaza.
See the full article

Annexing the West Bank Is a Brazen Violation of International Law
Editorial Board of The New York Times  •  30 May 2020

For his next act, after surviving a yearlong political struggle that he needed three national elections and a health crisis to overcome, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has announced that on July 1 he will start the process to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, as he pledged to do in his campaign.

Though the settlements have been steadily expanded over many decades, and the Jordan Valley is under effective Israeli military control, there are many reasons actual annexation is a bad idea.

The main reason is that the West Bank is regarded by international organizations and most of the world as occupied territory, and the Jewish settlements as illegal under the Geneva Convention. To Israeli nationalists, however, the West Bank is Judea and Samaria, the biblical homeland of the Jews. Israel holds that the Geneva Convention does not apply because there had been no Palestinian state in the West Bank, and because none of the settlers were “deported or transferred” to the territory, in the language of the convention.

Still, annexation would be condemned as illegal by the United Nations and all major states except for the United States. Previous administrations generally avoided taking a position on the legality of the settlements, preferring to call them “an obstacle to peace” and maintaining that ownership should be resolved in the context of a peace settlement.
See the full article

Israeli Annexation Explained: What Is Netanyahu Planning for the West Bank and What Does It Mean
Haaretz  •  26 May 2020
What exactly does “annexation” mean?
In general, the term “annexation,” or “applying sovereignty,” is a declaration that territories defined as occupied under international law become an integral part of the territory of the state annexing it – especially in terms of the law, jurisdiction and administration applicable to them. This replaces the military rule (“belligerent occupation,” to give it its official title) that applies under international law to occupied territories.

This usually refers to a unilateral step taken by the occupying power, not a step reached through negotiation and peace agreements with the occupied party. For example, this is how the State of Israel annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem – through unilateral moves accompanied by government decisions and Knesset legislation.

The vast majority of the international community never recognized these moves, until the current U.S. administration headed by President Donald Trump changed American policy on the issue and recognized Israeli sovereignty in both the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. However, Trump stressed that this recognition did not preclude future negotiations over the fate of these territories.
See the full article

Palestinian civil society calls on States to sanction Israel to stop

illegal annexation
BDS Movement  •  21 May 2020
Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Effective Measures by all States to Stop Israel’s Illegal Annexation of the Occupied West Bank and Grave Violations of Human Rights

• Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel.
• Suspend free-trade agreements with Israel.
• Prohibit all trade with the illegal Israeli settlements and ensure that companies refrain from/terminate business with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.
• Ensure that individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid are brought to justice.

Israel’s new right-wing government is once more set to formally annex large swathes of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). This de jure annexation would culminate years of gradual de facto annexation through the appropriation of land, forcible displacement of Palestinian population and the transfer of Israeli settler population in the OPT.

Indeed, Israel has violated the laws governing belligerent occupation since 1967 by progressing its colonization of the Palestinian territory. This has been facilitated by the imposition of an apartheid regime of racial discrimination, segregation and territorial expansion that is enshrined in Israel’s domestic law.
See the full article


Fact Sheet: Meet the New Israeli Government
IMEU:  Institute for Middle East Understanding  •  May 2020

Coalition Agreement & Annexation of Occupied Palestinian Land
According to the terms of the coalition agreement between Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz, Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for 18 months with Gantz as deputy prime minister and
defense minister, after which they will rotate and Gantz will become prime minister for the remainder of the government’s term. At that point, some of the other ministers will change as well. With 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers, it is the largest government in Israel’s history.

The agreement also stipulates that the new government can begin annexing occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank as soon as July 2020, which would be a grave violation of international law, which bars the acquisition of territory by force. Both Netanyahu and Gantz have endorsed President Donald Trump’s diplomatic plan for Palestine/Israel, widely seen as a gift to Israel’s right and a final death blow to the two-state solution, which includes approval for Israeli annexation of the large parts of the West Bank. Israeli and Trump administration officials have already held meetings to coordinate what Palestinian land Israel will annex.
See the full fact sheet from IMEU

Expert Q & A: The Trump Plan & Israeli Annexation of the Jordan Valley
IMEU  •  25 February 2020

Q&A with Diana Buttu, Ramallah-based political analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators.
     On January 28, 2020, President Donald Trump released the final details of his diplomatic plan for Palestine/Israel, which included US recognition of Israeli annexation of large swathes of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. The IMEU offers the following expert Q&A examining the consequences and context of Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley.
See it here


News & Analysis     Key Stories

2020: 53 years of Israeli Occupation

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

5 June 2020 – This week marks 53 years since the war of 1967 also commonly known by Palestinians as the Naksa when nearly 200,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homeland. As Netanyahu and the Israeli government plans to annex the West Bank, we call on Americans to take a stand and call for sanctions on Israel.

Contact your legislators in the U.S. Congress and urge them to oppose Israeli annexation:


▶︎  Nations Normalizing Relations with Israel:
see that page
▶︎  US Recognizes Israeli Sovereignty over West Bank Settlements:

go there

Open Letter from Christian Clergy in Bethlehem
"Bethlehem, surrounded by walls and settlements, already feels like an open prison. Annexation means the prison becomes even smaller, with no hopes for a better future." 
See their full letter


27 Religious Leaders write to Congress,
Oppose Israel Annexation of Palestinian Land

Signers include the President of the UMC Council of Bishops
"We share the grave concern expressed by the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches who in a statement dated May 7, called upon Israel to refrain from annexation, making clear that such a unilateral move “would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.” Formal annexation is an act of aggression, not a step for peace."
2 June 2020 –
See the full letter


The Dire Consequences of Israel’s “Coalition Government”
The board of Kairos Palestine raises an alarm regarding the consequences of the third failed Israeli election in less than a year. The resulting coalition entered on April 20, 2020, combines two of the most right-wing parties—Bennie Gantz’s Blue and White and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud—in a deal that directly threatens Palestinians’ freedom, health and human rights.
30 April 2020 –
See their statement


US Churches and Christian organizations reject President Trump’s recognition of Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights

The UMC General Board of Church and Society joins 9 other Christian denominations and organizations in rejecting "this reversal of consistent US policy and international consensus— that the Golan Heights are occupied and were acquired by force in the 1967War in contravention of international norms" and stating that they see this action "as an abandonment by the US of diplomacy to resolve such issues."  [UMKR's  note: Thought not specifically about annexation of Palestinian land, Israel's announcement of their formal annexation of Syria's territory, the Golan Heights, is a closely related issue.]
March 2019 –
See their statement


Israeli Annexation: Legalizing Apartheid? - UMKR Webinar

10 June 2020 – In this informative webinar, two of the best speakers on Israel/Palestine in the US explain the  dangers of annexation and actions we can take to oppose it.

See the recording