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UN human rights chief brands Israel's annexation of more Palestinian land illegal

Michelle Bachelet urged Tel Aviv ‘not to proceed along this dangerous path’

ANNEXATION of Palestinian land is illegal, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said yesterday, urging Israel not to proceed along a dangerous path which will create shockwaves lasting decades.

In a last-ditch appeal to Tel Aviv, she said it was not too late to abandon plans which would see whole swathes of the occupied West Bank, including the fertile Jordan Valley, stolen by Israel.

“Annexation is illegal. Period. Any annexation. Whether it is 30 per cent of the West Bank, or 5 per cent,” she said in a statement.

“I urge Israel to listen to its own former senior officials and generals, as well as to the multitude of voices around the world, warning it not to proceed along this dangerous path.”

Israel has been given the green light to annex land in an agreement branded the “deal of the century” announced by US President Donald Trump and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington in January.

Under the plans, Israel will take control of illegally occupied land and controversially be granted Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

But the deal has been strongly criticised by international bodies, including the UN which urged Israel to abandon annexation plans.

Last month saw Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sever ties with Washington and Tel Aviv over the plans.

But in the last meeting of the UN security council earlier this month, member states appeared to rule out sanctions against Israel, claiming the situation was “different” to Russia’s annexation of Crimea which was used as a comparison.

Ms Bachelet insisted that the annexation would be disastrous for Palestinians and undermine efforts to bring peace to the region.

“It is likely to entrench, perpetuate, and further heighten serious human rights violations that have characterised the conflict for decades,” she said.

“Palestinians living within the annexed zone would experience greater difficulty accessing essential services like education and health, and humanitarian access may also be hindered,” she added.

“Settlements — already a clear violation of international law — will almost certainly expand, increasing the existing friction between the two communities.”

Despite vocal opposition and statements of disapproval, Israel knows that action is unlikely, allowing it to continue to act with impunity.

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