Thousands of Arabs and Jews protest West Bank annexation, top British Jewry against plan
- A number of Israeli politicians spoke against the annexation
- Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz told protesters "annexation is a war crime"
- Some of the most prominent and respected names in British Jewry signed a letter of protest to the Israeli ambassador to the UK
A joint Jewish-Arab rally against Israeli plans to annex West Bank settlements took place Saturday in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square with thousands of participants.
Topics: WEST BANK
The protest was originally forbidden by the police due to fears over the coronavirus, but police relented and issued a permit on Friday night. Organizers have appointed some 50 supervisors who will ensure that coronavirus regulations are maintained.
A number of Israeli politicians also spoke at the the protest.
"We are yet to see an argument that convinces us, committed Zionists and passionately outspoken friends of Israel, that the proposed annexation is a constructive step"
“There is no such thing as democracy for Jews alone,” Odeh added. "Just like Martin Luther King and his supporters in the United States, we must realize that without justice there can be no peace. And there will be no social justice if we do not end the occupation,” Odeh said.
Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz told protesters, “annexation is a war crime. A crime against peace, a crime against democracy, a crime that will cost us in blood.” The left-wing party leader also criticized Defense Minister Benny Gantz and members of the center-left who joined the Netanyahu-led government: “You are full partners, you are backing and authorizing this tragedy.”
Among the other speakers at the rally are Muhammad Baraka, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel, MK Merav Michaeli, MK Tamar Zandberg, and MK Ofer Cassif.
Director of Breaking the Silence, Avner Gvaryahu, referred to the U.S. administration’s Middle East peace plan, saying that “Trump isn’t sending his kids to guard the outposts … The children of American annexation supporters cannot be killed or kill out in the territories, but our kids can.”
Dozens of police officers and guards monitored the demonstration. The police spokesperson said they have called on participants to uphold order, particularly in relation to the Health Ministry guidelines regarding the coronavirus by keeping a two-meter distance between one another and wearing masks.
After initially telling organizers that they cannot hold the protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to annex parts of the West Bank, police said Friday that the demonstration will be allowed to proceed.
The organizers welcomed the decision. "We did not give in to the attempts to silence us," they said in a statement, "or give in to annexation, which will perpetuate the occupation and thwart the two-state solution."
Some of the most prominent and respected names in British Jewry have raised alarm over the Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, saying such a move would be an existential threat to Israel.
Among more than 40 signatories of an unprecedented letter to the Israeli ambassador to the UK are Sir Ben Helfgott, one of the best-known Holocaust survivors in Britain; the historians Sir Simon Schama and Simon Sebag Montefiore; the former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind; the lawyer Anthony Julius; the philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield; the scientist Lord Robert Winston; the former MP Luciana Berger; the Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein; and the author Howard Jacobson.
Their letter to Mark Regev, conveying “concern and alarm” about the pledge by Israel’s new coalition government to extend its territory over swaths of the West Bank, is the latest indication of mounting disquiet among British Jews over the plan.
The signatories say their concerns are “shared by large numbers of the British Jewish community, including many in its current leadership, even if they choose not to express them”.
The letter says: “We are yet to see an argument that convinces us, committed Zionists and passionately outspoken friends of Israel, that the proposed annexation is a constructive step. Instead, it would in our view be a pyrrhic victory intensifying Israel’s political, diplomatic and economic challenges without yielding any tangible benefit.
“It would have grave consequences for the Palestinian people most obviously. Israel’s international standing would also suffer and it is incompatible with the notion of Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state.” ■