05:45 GMT22 October 2020
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    Despite international resistance and pressure from within his own cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to go ahead with Tel Aviv’s plans to ‘apply sovereignty’ to large swathes of territory in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, with the process expected to begin as soon as later Wednesday.

    Marwan Muasher, a retired Jordanian diplomat who served as Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel following the signing of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, has warned that the realization of the Netanyahu government’s plans to take over as much as one-third of the West Bank cannot be done peacefully, and that any move in this direction would kill the prospects of any two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “Any annexation at any time with any size is going to kill the two-state, and killing the two-state solution isn’t in Palestinian interests, nor in Jordanian interests,” Muasher said in an interview with TRT World.

    “We are less concerned in Jordan about the timing of annexation. We are more concerned with an Israeli government that seems to think they can do annexation and preserve any semblance of peace, which is totally false,” he added.

    The former diplomat believes Prime Minister Netanyahu may have decided to its push for “annexation” now as a result of support from the Trump administration, which may disappear if Trump is voted out of office in November. “Until last year, Netanyahu never even mentioned annexation, nor considered it important for Israel’s security,” Muasher recalled. “In fact all of Israel’s security establishment or most of it thinks annexation is going to be bad for Israel, both from a security and political point of view.”

    Muasher fears that “if the Palestinians cannot have their own state in the West Bank and Gaza, that is a formula for violence.”

    Furthermore, he argued, the rejection of a two-state solution may end up undermining Israel's legally-mandated status as a Jewish State.

    “If a two-state solution becomes impossible…then the Palestinians probably will shift the paradigm and will start demanding equal rights within the state they are living in," Muasher explained. That changes the equation totally because the Palestinians today are a majority in areas under Israeli control, and in ten or twenty or thirty years down the line, when the Palestinians become 60 or 65 percent of the population, the international community is not going to be able to keep saying to the Palestinians ‘no to a state and no to equal rights’. That means only yes to apartheid, which is something that cannot last.”

    “The time for a two-state solution is closing and the only alternative is going to be what we face today, which is not a one-state solution maybe, but a one-state reality. And the question becomes from now on: if a two state-solution is dead – what kind of state reality do we want? Do we want a democratic state or do we want an apartheid state?” Muasher concluded.

    Between 1995 and 1996, Muasher served as Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel following the signing other 1994 peace treaty, putting an end to decades of tensions following the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973. After that, he helped put together the Arab Peace Initiative and the Middle East Roadmap, two proposals aimed at resolving the three-quarters-of-a-century old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Jordan, Other Nations Urge Israel Not to Proceed With Plans

    Jordan has repeatedly warned Israel against pressing ahead with its West Bank plans, with Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announcing last month that the initiative would “destroy all the foundations” on which the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is based, and ruin Jordanian-Israeli relations. King Abdullah has reportedly refused to communicate with Prime Minister Netanyahu or Defence Minister Benny Gantz amid rising tensions.  

    Before that, Amman indicated that any annexation of West Bank territories would force Jordan to consider the 1994 peace treaty.

    Jordan and Egypt are currently the only Arab nations which recognize the state of Israel.

    Other nations, including the France, Germany, Russia, and most recently the UK, have urged Tel Aviv not to move forward with its plans, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain making a last-minute attempt to talk Israel out of its plans on Wednesday via an op-ed in Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth. Calling himself a “life-long friend, admirer and supporter of Israel,” Johnson suggested that “annexation would put in jeopardy the progress that Israel has made in improving relationships with the Arab and Muslim world” and be a violation of international law.


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