Vatican Corner 07-12-2020

Annexation is when a country declares land that is outside its border is now within those borders. It often happens after military occupation and without the approval of the people living there. International law says it is illegal. During the past year, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made repeated promises to annex different areas of the West Bank adjoining Israel. The West Bank is the area west of the Jordan River, bounded by Israel to the north, west and south and by Jordan to the East. That land was captured from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East War. The area has been under Israeli military occupation ever since. The native 2.5 million Palestinian Arabs that live there claim a historical right to the area and want it for their future independent state. Israel claims the West Bank as the ancestral land of the Jewish people and need it strategically for its self-defense. For decades there have been difficult on-off talks between the Israel and Palestinians with no solution. The Palestinians live under Israeli military rule and limited self-rule. The West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) is also the home for some 430,000 Israeli Jews living in 132 settlements and 124 smaller “outposts” built under the Israeli’s occupation. It is these settlements, outposts and the Jordan Valley which make up one-third of the West Bank and is what is intended to be annexed. Prime Minister Netanyahu had promised to move forward with the annexation as soon as July 1, 2020. That annexation would leave the Palestinian areas fragmented and with less land for a country of their own. Israel has been warned by both friends and foes in the international community not to go ahead with annexation. The fear is that it would push peace between the Israel and the Palestinians even farther out of reach. On June 30th, 2020, the Vatican summoned the ambassadors of the United State and Israel to express its concern regarding the planned annexation of Palestinian territories. A statement was released on July 1 to let the whole world know that it fundamentally disagrees with any annexation and sees this as a serious threat to peace in the Middle East. The Vatican repeated its long-standing position “that the State of Israel and the State of Palestine have the right to exist and to live in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders,” and those borders being the ones recognized before 1967. The Vatican also expressed “its hope that Israelis and Palestinians will be soon able to find once again the possibility for direct negotiating an agreement, with the help of the international community, so that peace may finally reign in the Holy Land, so beloved by Jews and Christians and Muslims