By Vatican News
With the United States in turmoil over racial justice protests and economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank after 1 July look ever more precarious and could be postponed.
Yes to negotiation, no to annexation
Adding their voices to widespread condemnation of the Unilateral Annexations Plans, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby have each written a letter making it clear that they “unambiguously support the fundamental right of Israel’s citizens to live in peace and safety,” but emphasize that “these prospects can only be secured through negotiation rather than annexation.”
According to a joint statement released on Saturday, The Archbishop of Westminster, who is also the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Anglican Communion, addressed their letters to Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regey and British PM, Boris Johnson, in a concerned response to Israel’s plan to annex West Bank territory from the beginning of July.
The two Christian leaders also stressed their deep belief that it is essential that both Israelis and Palestinians may live without violence or the threat of violence from each other or other armed groups.
Warning from Holy Land Church leaders
Their letters follow the recent warning from the leaders of Churches in the Holy Land that the Government of Israel’s proposed annexation of West Bank territory would “bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.”
The State of Palestine is officially recognized by the United Nations and other entities (including the Vatican) as a Sovereign State, claiming the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as the designated capital.
Following a ‘West Asia peace plan’ unveiled by the US President in January this year, and that supports annexations by Israel, there has been a huge surge in population of West Bank settlements.
The annexation proposal has been widely condemned, with Jordan warning it would mean an end to its peace treaty with Israel, the European Union calling the move unacceptable and the Palestinians announcing they will suspend all previous agreements with Israel.
Israeli security analysts have warned that the move could lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, forcing Israel to resume civic control of almost 3 million Palestinian civilians, and maybe even to violence.