Zahid Warns Of Israel S Biggest Mistake
UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday deplored Israel's decision to annex more Palestinian lands in the West Bank, describing it as a time bomb to further peace efforts in the Middle East.
In the two-hour international online conference which also saw participation by 30 scholars and leaders worldwide, he said the July 1 (tomorrow) plan will be Israel's biggest mistake in world diplomacy as it defies all humanity norms.
The United Nations, he said should take up the matter seriously and an amicable diplomatic solution must derive soon.
To me, the annexation plan is illegal, in fact any annexation globally. Whether it is 30 per cent of the West Bank or less, it would have a disastrous impact on human rights throughout the Middle East, and the shock waves will last for decades.This latest move will not only seriously damage peace efforts but may also entrench, perpetuate and further heighten serious human rights violations, that have characterized the conflict for decades.As population centres become enclaves, in addition to restricting movement, significant tracts of private land could be illegally expropriated or become inaccessible for Palestinians to cultivate land they legally own.Moreover, Palestinians living within the annexed zone would experience greater difficulty accessing essential services like education and health, and humanitarian access may also be hindered.Palestinians would come under even heavier pressure to move out of the annexed zone, and entire communities that are currently not recognized under Israel’s planning regime, would be at high risk of forcible transfer, according to the UN human rights office. And Palestinians outside the annexed zone risk seeing their access to natural resources cut off, their opportunity for natural growth removed and even their ability to leave and return to their own country, severely restricted.According to Palestine Ambassador to Malaysia Walid Abu Ali, the settlements, meanwhile, which are already a clear violation of international law, will almost certainly expand, increasing the existing friction between the two communities.Calling the situation “a highly combustible mix”, he expressed deep concern that even the most minimalist form of annexation, would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed, and the two populations brought into closer proximity."The existing two-tier system of law in the same territory will become embedded, with devastating impacts on the lives of Palestinians who have little or no access to legal remedy”, he asserted.He also spelled out that under international humanitarian or human rights law, illegal annexation would not change Israel’s obligations as the occupying power. “Instead, it will grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution, undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations, and perpetuate the serious existing human rights and international humanitarian law violations we witness today”.Annexation will make things worse: short-term risks include the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and an end to what remains of Oslo, a crisis in Israel’s relations with Jordan and Egypt with its de facto allies in the Gulf.Above all, a resurgence of violence that could make the last intifada look tame. It will also destabilise an already volatile region, offering rich opportunities for Iran and Hizbullah to exploit. Palestinians will suffer directly.Zahid warned that it will lead to massive expropriation, automatic in some cases, of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families and entire communities from the annexed territories. Even the situation in blockaded Gaza, home to two million Palestinians, will remain unchanged. In the big picture, annexation will mark a historic turning-point for Palestine. Future historians will compare it with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the wars of 1948 and 1967.It will overturn the fundamental principle, recognised by Britain's Peel Commission in 1937 and by the fledgling United Nations in 1947, that the only way to resolve the conflict is to partition the Holy Land into separate Jewish and Arab states, guaranteeing national self-determination for both peoples who claim it as their own.Unilateral annexation will lead Israelis and Palestinians and their profoundly asymmetrical conflict into uncharted territory. But if history teaches one lesson, it is that facts on the ground, illegal or not, are unlikely to be reversed without violence.And even if annexation is delayed or does not happen, the situation will not have improved. No happy end is in sight.
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