New Netanyahu-Gantz coalition agreement stipulates illegal annexation of West Bank

Government coalition deal imposing Israeli sovereignty in occupied West Bank is violation of both international and Israeli law; Adalah to attorney general: Clarify that you will act against any government or Knesset move to promote annexation of OPT.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter last night, 22 April 2020, to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue-White party leader Benny Gantz warning that the coalition agreement signed this week between Netanyahu and Gantz includes a stipulation to impose Israeli sovereignty over parts of occupied West Bank that is patently illegal.


The coalition agreement de facto establishes Israel as the sole sovereign in Israel and in additional parts of the 1967 Palestinian occupied territories, based on United States President Donald Trump’s January 2020 “deal of the century”, which envisioned Israeli annexation of massive swaths of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.


In her letter, Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara stressed that the agreement to apply sovereignty over the occupied territories is illegal.


Section 29 of the coalition agreement states:


“After a discussion and consultation between the Prime Minister and the Alternate Prime Minister on the principles set out above, the Prime Minister will be able to bring the agreement that will be reached with the United States on applying sovereignty starting on 1 July 2020 to the Cabinet hearing and the government for approval by the government and / or the Knesset.” The section sets a fast track for passing the prime minister’s proposal to the Knesset on the issue, and assures that “the law will be passed as soon as possible, in the quickest possible way, and in a way that will not disrupt and delay the process by the Knesset and the Knesset's Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense.”


Adalah calls on Attorney General Mandelblit to make clear that this section of the coalition agreement is illegal, and to clarify that he will act against any move that the Israeli government or Knesset may make promoting annexation of the OPT.


Adalah emphasizes in the letter that, according to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Israel’ Separation Wall, Israel is prohibited from applying sovereignty over and annexing territories it occupied in 1967.  


Adalah stresses the “coalition agreement” is a further step closer to bypassing international legal barriers and to ignoring Palestinians' right to self-determination, as well as United Nations resolutions, and recent statements from the International Criminal Court.


The UN and other international tribunals have consistently confirmed the status of the West Bank and Gaza as occupied territories and the illegality of Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank, including UN Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Wall (2004), and most recently, in late December 2019, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor announced that ongoing Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank constitute war crimes:


“There is a reasonable basis to believe that in the context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, members of the Israeli authorities have committed war crimes under article 8(2)(b)(viii) in relation, inter alia, to the transfer of Israeli civilians into the West Bank…"


Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara commented:


"We do not recognize any precedent anywhere in the world in which a political agreement to form a government coalition stipulates a commitment to violate international law. Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank – which this coalition agreement seeks to advance – constitutes another step toward abolishing the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the establishment of an apartheid regime. This section of the agreement cannot stand the test of international or Israeli law, and we will continue to take action against it.”


CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]