LONDON: Palestinian leaders were impressed by the firm stance UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took against Israeli annexation, and hope to work with him and other European leaders in future negotiations, a senior Palestinian diplomatic has said.
Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the UK, told the Telegraph that Johnson’s intervention against Israel’s planned annexation of much of the West Bank last month played a key role in forcing Israel to back down.
In early July, with Israel’s initial proposed annexation date fast approaching, Johnson penned an article in an Israeli newspaper urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to abandon annexation on the grounds that it would be a major breach of international law.
“As a life-long friend, admirer and supporter of Israel,” he wrote, “I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”
Zomlot celebrated this intervention, which heavily implied there would be concrete consequences should Israel move ahead with the plans.
“Prime Minister Johnson was one of the most active in Europe and worldwide in saying to Israel, do not do this — all the way to writing an article, telling them we love you so much, but don’t disfigure that experience.”
He added: “Practically, that was the message, that annexation is a matter that will bring consequences and will affect Israeli and our relationship.”
Johnson’s remarks, Zomlot said, made it clear that he and other world leaders were “not Trump,” and that they would not subject the Palestinian people to “the rule of the jungle” by allowing annexation to go ahead.
The senior diplomat also called on the British prime minister to bring together the Palestinians, Israelis and European powers to reinvigorate the peace process at a summit, in a departure from the long-running precedent of using the US as a key mediator of the negotiations.
“Lead an international peace conference, bring everybody you can,” he suggested.
“Bring all of us around the table and apply the international framework, and give guarantees … of a multilateral peace making mechanism led by the UK and other key countries that will deliver a hope for a solution and an actual implementation of a solution.”
Moves to formally annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank into Israel began with the signing of a coalition government agreement earlier this year, after Netanyahu made the issue a central pledge in his re-election campaign.
The plans were met with widespread international condemnation, including from the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN and the EU.