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Large rally held in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s annexation plan

Protesters, wearing protective masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank on June 23, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

A large number of people have staged a rally in Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli regime’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

About 2,500 people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Tuesday evening to protest the decision.

Celebrities, activists, entrepreneurs, and security experts were in attendance and delivered speeches, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Amos Yadlin, a former general in the Israeli air force and the ex-head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, reportedly spoke about the security risks that the annexation would entail.

“I can assure you, one-sidedly annexing 30 percent of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] will not bring any strategic advantages, but it will bring with it grave security risks, international pressures, and failures of legitimacy and morals,” Yadlin warned.

He said annexation would hurt cooperation with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority and draw “vital military force away from the northern front with Iran and [the Lebanese resistance movement of] Hezbollah.”

Jordan is one of the only two Arab countries that have open diplomatic relations with the Israeli regime.

The Palestinian Authority has already terminated all agreements with Israel and the United States over the annexation plan, a brainchild of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has set July 1 as the date for the start of cabinet discussions on the annexation plan.

Reem Younis, an entrepreneur who attended the Tuesday rally, also criticized the plan, emphasizing that the measure “is an economic catastrophe for both sides [the Israelis and the Palestinians]. It will ruin everything we’ve worked to build together.”

And Yair “Yaya” Fink, an activist, said, “Whether we want it or not, the Palestinians are there, and we are here, and any one-sided annexation would demolish that.”

Fink called annexation “anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, anti-democratic, and anti-security.”

In pursuing his aggressive plan, Netanyahu has been driven ahead by US President Donald Trump, who unveiled a “peace” plan for the Middle East in January that effectively sidelines the Palestinians altogether.

The plan, which Trump himself has described as the “deal of the century,” envisions Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the Tel Aviv regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The plan also denies Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homeland, among other controversial terms.

Trump’s plan has been rejected by all Palestinians factions.

Trump’s aides begin discussions on Israel’s annexation plan: Report

Meanwhile, senior aides to Trump reportedly began discussions on Tuesday on whether to give Netanyahu the green light to go ahead with his plan to annex large swathes of land in the occupied West Bank.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, and the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended a White House meeting to discuss the matter, a US official and a person familiar with the deliberations told Reuters.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Trump did not participate. But Reuters cited US sources as saying he could join later this week.

The officials held what one source called “informal internal discussions.” No decisions were reportedly made at the meeting.

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