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Israel takes advantage of pandemic to annex parts of West Bank: Palestine UN envoy

In this file photo, Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour speaks following a meeting of the UN Security Council on the worsening situation in the Gaza Strip at the United Nations headquarters, New York, the United States.

Palestine's permanent representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour says the Israeli regime continues to exploit the global preoccupation with the novel coronavirus pandemic to press ahead with its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in full coordination with US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Mansour, in three identical letters addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the rotating President of the UN Security Council Sven Jurgenson and President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande on Thursday, pointed to the crimes being committed by the Tel Aviv regime, including illegal annexation measures, saying such moves threaten the so-called two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

“Israel continues to use the corona[virus] crisis ... to advance its annexation plans in full coordination with the current US administration,” the diplomat highlighted.

He noted that Israeli officials have stepped up their provocative remarks boasting of their unlawful intentions, in complete contempt of the international law and demands and warnings of the international community, human rights organizations, and world leaders.

Mansour went on to say that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have signed a coalition cabinet agreement under which the Knesset (parliament) will be able to decide on annexation of parts of the West Bank as of July 1 in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, the international law and UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2334.

The Palestinian UN representative stressed that US support for Israeli annexation plans have encouraged the Tel Aviv regime to get away with its crimes with impunity, while granting Israeli authorities the green light to annex all settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley, and ensure the regime’s perpetual occupation.

“This will make impossible the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state,” as affirmed by 32 US foreign policy specialists, Mansour said.

He stressed that if Israel is allowed to move forward with such illegal and unilateral plans, the measures will then bring about the end of the “two-state” solution and kill the existing agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli regime.

“In addition to the devastating effects of annexation on the national aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people, the measure poses a serious threat to regional peace and the international order,” Mansour said.

The Palestinian diplomat stated that the international law and its importance for global peace and security will be put at risk if Israel’s policies of land expropriation are not met with objections.

“It will convey a message that those who break law and even war criminals can do whatever they desire without any punishment,” he said.

Mansour then urged the international community to adopt concrete steps to hold Israel accountable, prevent perpetration of more Israeli crimes, especially in light of the impending annexation plans, and protect the rights of the Palestinian nation. 

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