Benjamin Netanyahu’s “alarming” pledge to annex large chunks of the West Bank, further reducing any prospect of a future Palestinian state have been criticised by left-leaning British Jewish groups Yachad and New Israel Fund.
In an effort to woo right-wing voters just days before the General Election, the Israeli prime minister vowed to claim sovereignty over large Jewish settlements, finally yielding to the calls of his right-wing allies.
“Netanyahu’s announcement shows the extent to which he is willing to completely undermine the possibility of any kind of resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict,” said Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld.
“His words should serve as alarm bells to supporters of Israel who understand that Israel cannot survive as a Jewish and democratic state, without the conflict being resolved.”
The chief executive of New Israel Fund-UK said the comments mean “we are standing at a defining moment in history… In the choice among Israel’s Jewish character, its democracy and its control of the Palestinian territories, we can choose two, but not all three”.
The NIF’s Adam Ognall said that by “blowing up decades of internationally-agreed policy” and endorsing the “unilateral and illegal” annexation of Palestinian territories, Netanyahu “has stopped the clock” and forced Israel’s supporters to choose.
“Two paths lie before us,” said Ognall. “One will keep Palestinians locked into an intolerable reality without basic rights and freedoms, and destroy the dream of millions of Jewish people to achieve self-determination in a Jewish and democratic state, for which Netanyahu will have to accept responsibility.
“The other path leads to self-determination for Jews and Palestinians in two democratic states with equality for all. The time has come for all who care about the people of Israel and Palestine to choose wisely.”
Weisfeld said Israel’s supporters must now ask “who are the real Zionists in these elections,” given that the choice was between “those that will do anything to stay in power and those that have Israel’s real long-term safety and security at heart”.
Israeli commentators played down Netanyahu’s comments, noting that he had vetoed three annexation motions last year because he understood the international fury it would unleash.
Reacting to Netanyahu’s weekend comments, Guy Verhofstadt, who leads a powerful bloc in the European Parliament, said it showed “shameful populism” and would amount to a violation of international law. The US State Department declined to comment.
The Board of Deputies in the UK has been approached for comment.