15:55 GMT07 August 2020
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    Israel's recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still mulling over his plan to extend Israel’s sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, set to be voted on in early July. But while he considers his options, he has come under much pressure from both regional and international players.

    Palestinians are set to hold a mass rally on Monday evening to vent anger at Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank and attract public and international attention to their situation.

    The rally that will take place at the entrance to the Palestinian city of Jericho is one in a series of many that are planned in the upcoming days across the West Bank and organisers promise it will be held despite the coronavirus restrictions announced by Palestinian National Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammed Al Shtayyeh on Sunday.

    Palestinians Refuse to Swallow the Pill

    For Palestinians it is a "take it or break it" approach. Previously, Ramallah has warned that if Israel goes ahead with its plans to extend its sovereignty over 30 percent of the West Bank, they will call the historic Oslo agreements of 1994 off, paving the way for the dismantlement of the PA.

    Earlier this month, Nidal Foqaha, a Palestinian scholar, told Sputnik that such a move would mean big economic losses for both sides, as over the years Israel and the PA have inked a number of joint deals in the spheres of energy, construction and telecommunications; and the dismantling of the Authority could put them at risk.

    His claim was, however, disputed by the Mayor of the Jordan Valley regional council David Elhayani, who told Sputnik earlier this month that the extension of Israel's sovereignty will not only improve the Palestinians' economic conditions but will also make them eligible for Israel's citizenship, giving them access to social benefits and healthcare.

    Problems can also be encountered in the sphere of security coordination. Over the years, Israel and the Palestinians have been sharing intelligence information on Islamic terror groups that have been threatening the Jewish state and the stability of the PA.

    The announcement of PM Benjamin Netanyahu to go ahead with his plans to extend Israel's sovereignty brought that cooperation to a halt, with Israeli media warning that the lack of coordination with the PA would lead to dire repercussions, especially in light of a third Intifada that could potentially erupt after Israel passes the so-called annexation bill set for early July.

    Problems with Neighbours?

    That, however, will be only one of Israel's many problems. Apart from the splitting of Israeli society into strong supporters and opponents of the bill and causing frictions within his own conservative camp, Netanyahu's move might also destabilise already-fragile regional security.

    Jordan controlled the West Bank until 1967, when the region was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War, and has already threatened to take serious measures against Tel Aviv, if it ends up pursuing the path of annexation.

    In May, King Abdallah II warned the Jewish state of a "massive conflict" over annexation and hinted that the 1994 peace deal with Israel could be on the line -- a move that was backed by several Jordanian parliamentarians representing various political factions.

    Jordan is one of only two Arab countries (together with Egypt) that maintain diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and the cancellation of the peace accords might not only harm the security coordination between the two but can also lower Israel's chances to establish relations with other Arab nations -- primarily in the Gulf.

    Despite still not recognising Israel officially, the Gulf states have had many dealings with Tel Aviv over the years.

    Two years ago, for example, Netanyahu went on a blitz visit to Oman where he discussed regional stability with the then-leader. Sultan Qaboos, whereas officials from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have expressed their countries' willingness to improve relations with Israel, conditioning progress in that regard on a breakthrough on the Palestinian front.

    In the United Arab Emirates there have also been voices that expressed their government's openness to ties with the Jewish state but Netanyahu's planned move might silence them all. The past years have seen several high profile Israeli ministers pay a visit to the UAE despite the lack of diplomatic ties between the two nations. Netanyahu's planned move, however, might put an end to that cooperation.

    In a rare op-ed to Israel's news website Ynet, UAE's ambassador to the US wrote that for his country would like to improve its ties with the Jewish state especially in light of the coronavirus and the world leaders' quest for a cure for the disease. Yet, he also stressed that the Jewish state's annexation plan was "an illegal seizure of Palestinian land" that would "certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, and economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and the UAE".

    International Pressure Mounting

    However, the move can also be devastating for Israel's relations with the world. Most of the international community considers the West Bank to be Palestinian territory and biting off big chunks of the area might tarnish Israel's image.

    In an attempt to prevent that from happening, EU ministers tried putting pressure on Washington, arguably Israel’s most ardent champion, to convince the latter to backtrack from its support for Israel's plan to incorporate some of  these efforts have been futile.

    Attempts have also been made by France and Germany, called the planned move "illegal" but didn't threaten Israel with sanctions explicitly primarily because such a measure would require a European consensus, something that the EU is unlikely to achieve.

    Palestinians, third Intifada, Intifada, violence, peace treaty, annexation, West Bank Settlements, West Bank, Israel
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