Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to annex territory in West Bank. He has set the date of July 1, 2020, for the cabinet vote on whether to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the area. Annexation has been a taboo; it has never been validated by any U.S. administrations, as it goes against the foundational idea of a peace process that territorial changes in West Bank must be a part of a negotiated solutions. Yet now Israel is vowing to press ahead with the unqualified support of Trump administration.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the joint Jewish- Arab Rally on Saturday in Tel Aviv to stop Israeli plans to annex West Bank settlements. Thousands of people gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to participate in the protest which was originally forbidden by the police due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Sanders addressed the rally in a video conference, expressing his support for the protestors and consigned Israeli annexation plans. The senator said that he was “heartened” to see the Arabs and Jews demonstrating together.
Sanders addressed the rally saying, “In these difficult days, it has never been important to stand up for justice and to fight for the future we all deserve.” “It’s up to all of us to stand up to authoritarian leaders and to build a peaceful future for every Palestine and every Israeli,” the Senator added. Sanders, who criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing policies over the years added, “The plans to annex any part of the West Bank must be stopped. The occupation must be ended and we must work together for a future of equality and dignity for all people in Israel and Palestine.” “In the words of my friend Ayman Odeh: The only future is a shared future,” he added.
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Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List alliance of Arab- majority parties, spoke at the crowd addressing them, “We are at the crossroads. One path leads to a joint society with real democracy, civil and national equality for Arab citizens and the second path leads to hatred, violence, annexations, and apartheid.” He told the crowd that, “We are here to pick the first path.” “There is no such thing as democracy for Jews alone,” Odeh added. “Just like Martin Luther King and his supporters in the United States, everyone must realize that without justice there is no peace and even there will be no social justice if the occupation is not stopped,” Odeh address to the crowd.
Among the other speakers in the rally was Muhammad Baraka, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel, MK Merav Michaeli, MK Tamar Zandberg, and MK Ofer Cassif. After the event ended many protestors stayed back and blocked the traffic surrounding the square. Protestors started laying on the pavement surrounding Rabin Square, echoing protests taking place around the world for George Floyd against the white police brutally killing him while he was in police custody in Minneapolis.
Netanyahu has set July 1 as the deadline for beginning the process of annexing settlements established in the West Bank since 1967, including the Jordan Valley. This week, the Prime Minister has sought to reassure settle leaders that annexation would be promoted independently to the US President Donald Trump’s Middle East Plan.
In the past few weeks, settlers have already opposed the conditions that portrayed the plan of annexation, which namely includes settlement expansion and isolation of some 15 settlements inside territories of a future Palestine state, which they also oppose the establishment of.