A senior lawmaker for the UK’s Labour party has called for a boycott of products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank if Israel goes ahead with its planned annexation of parts of the territory.
MP Lisa Nandy, who is shadow foreign secretary, said that Britain cannot be “a silent witness” to Israel’s planned extension of sovereignty to some 30 percent of the West Bank, as outlined in the Trump administration peace proposal. The peace plan envisions Palestinian rule over the remaining 70%.
Under the unity government deal, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu can begin advancing annexation on July 1, which he has repeatedly pledged to do. Palestinians and much of the international community say the move could scuttle any hopes of a viable Palestinian state.
“The proposal to unilaterally annex nearly a third of the West Bank is an illegal act which will undermine the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, and has serious implications for the stability of the Middle East,” Nandy said, according The Guardian newspaper.
“It is a shameful proposition to which the UK cannot be a silent witness,” she said.
“This is now urgent,” Nandy said. “The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank.”
According to the Guardian, her boycott proposal is backed by Labor party leader Keir Starmer, who is working to repair the image of the party, which was seen as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Nandy admitted that a ban on goods would be a “a major step, but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences. It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show.”
The lawmaker speculated that the UK may be reluctant to act against Israel due to a UK-US trade deal, but said Britain has a “unique moral responsibility and must step up. Should we fail to do so, the world will pay the price for a long time to come.”
Israel has protested against previous calls to ban settlement goods, saying they were a way of encouraging boycotts of the Jewish state.
There has been wide opposition to the annexation across Europe. On Saturday the Simon Wiesenthal Center warned that street rallies against annexation bring with them promotion of Israel boycotts and anti-Semitism.
Members of the center monitored one such protest march in Paris on Saturday under the banner “No to Israeli Annexation,” the center said in a statement.
The march, from Barbès to Nation, was organized by a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups including Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, BDS France, Euro-Palestine. Similar marches were planned across France, as well as other countries in Europe and worldwide including in Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, the US and Canada.
Last week UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons, “I believe that what is proposed by Israel would amount to a breach of international law. We have strongly objected. We believe profoundly in a two-state solution and we will continue to make that case.”
The Trump administration has indicated it will not oppose Netanyahu’s declared plans to annex, providing Israel accepts its “Peace to Prosperity” plan, which conditionally provides for a Palestinian state on the remaining 70% of the territory.
However, The Times of Israel reported earlier this month that the White House was “highly unlikely” to green light Israeli annexation by July 1 and that more work was needed on the mapping of the territories, and that Trump’s peace envoy Avi Berkowitz, along with the president’s senior adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, would likely first come to Jerusalem to discuss outstanding issues.
On Friday Berkowitz arrived in Israel for expected talks this week with Israeli leaders.
Berkowitz’s trip to Israel comes after the Trump administration held three days of talks on whether to back annexation, with a White House official saying no final decision was made.
Concerned about the collateral damage that could follow from allowing Israel to move ahead with its plan, Washington is reportedly considering backing the annexation of only a handful of settlements close to Jerusalem.
While Nandy, the senior Labour lawmaker, has long been a vocal critic of the Israeli government’s policies regarding the Palestinians, she has also spoken out against anti-Semitism in her party and received the endorsement of the Jewish Labour Movement, one of the oldest societies affiliated with the party, when earlier this year she ran for the party leadership.
In February Nandy tweeted that she opposes the Trump peace plan unveiled the month before in Washington, and also signed onto a series of pro-Palestinian pledges, including one recognizing the Palestinian “right of return.”
Israel and its supporters say that granting millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants the right to settle in Israel would effectively end the Jewish state.