Tensions between Israel and Palestine increased after the new Israeli government urgently prepared a plan to expand its sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, Palestinian occupied territories. Notably, Israel’s plan to merge more than 30% of the West Bank area has received support from the US government. Prime Minister of Israel B. Netanyahu has had talks with the US regarding the implementation of this plan, on the basis of the US President’s Middle East peace plan, which was rejected by Palestine.
Strongly opposed to the bolstered occupation policy of Israel, the Palestinian envoy to the UN R. Mansour recently announced that Palestine would make more efforts at the UN Security Council to prevent the serious consequences of the Israeli annexation plan. The Palestinian leader decided to hold unrestricted conferences to discuss how to respond once the Israeli annexation plan was implemented.
Palestinian President M. Abbas asserted that the solidarity of the Palestinian people and the country’s territorial integrity were a top priority. The Palestinian government has suspended all commitments and agreements reached with both Israel and the US, including security coordination. Accordingly, security and intelligence cooperation between Palestinian security agencies and the Israeli army, as well as civil relations between the two sides have ended. Palestinian security agencies also stopped sharing information with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). These tense moves have “warmed up” the situation in the region, pushing the Middle East peace process toward the brink of collapse.
Israeli public opinion is also concerned that the government’s annexation plan will deepen the hatred between Israelis and Arab countries, threatening to push the region into a new spiral of conflict. Thousands of Israelis held protests on the Rabin square in Tel Aviv to oppose the PM's plan. The demonstrators gathered under a banner “No to annexation, no to occupation, yes to peace and democracy”.
The most recent uprising named the Second Intifada occurred in the early 2000s with a wave of suicide bombings. If Israel continues to strengthen the implementation of hostile policies against the Palestinians, it will be difficult to avoid similar uprisings in the future. Despite the risk of escalating the conflict, the Israeli Ministry of Defense recently ordered the military to accelerate its readiness to fight ahead of political steps under the plan regarding Palestine.
Arab countries have called for a unified response, showing solidarity with the Palestinians to counter Israel’s moves to expand their occupation. Jordan and many other countries in the region have warned that Israel's violations of international law hinders the regional peace process, undermining prospects of the two-state solution and at the same time sparkling conflicts. Arab countries also called on the international community to take immediate action regarding Israel's decision in order to protect the region's long-term peace.
The UN Special Coordinator has spoken of efforts to encourage the “Quartet” (the UN, Russia, the US and the EU) to provide feasible measures to save the Middle Eastern peace process. Warning that the Israeli annexation would harm opportunities for peace, the EU called on member countries to increase pressure on Tel Aviv. Some European countries called for imposition of sanctions if Israel pursues its plan to annex Palestinian territories. The majority of UN Security Council member countries expressed deep concern about tensions in the field, as well as Israel's continued expansion of illegal settlements.
The international community called on Israel to end its unilateral actions and resume negotiations with Palestine on the basis of agreed criteria and the relevant UN resolutions. Every political effort should be directed toward a two-state solution, on the basis of the borderline prior to 1967, and East Jerusalem as the capital of the independent State of Palestine.