Netanyahu discussed unilaterally annexing 30% of the West Bank during a closed-door meeting, report says

By Rosie Perper

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly plans to annex 30% of the West Bank, according to a report.

Such an acquisition of disputed territory would violate international law, UN human rights experts have said.

An unnamed Israeli official briefed on the matter told the news website Axios that Netanyahu's 30% plan was one of several scenarios presented at a private meeting on Wednesday with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

According to Axios, other options included "a more symbolic annexation of a small amount of land." The two other ministers, according to Axios, old Netanyahu that they oppose annexation of any areas that house Palestinians. 

The official told Axios that Gantz and Ashkenazi favor a plan that would give Palestinians something in return. Ultimately the meeting ended without agreement, the source added. 

Netanyahu has previously pledged to move forward with plans to annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, setting July 1 as a tentative deadline to begin the process. 

Both Israel and Palestine assert claims to land in the West Bank, which was occupied by Israel in 1967 after the Six Day War. According to the BBC, an estimated 2.1 million to 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, which is the area west of the Jordan River.

About 430,000 Israelis also live in the West Bank in 132 settlements and dozens of smaller "outposts." 

United Nations experts on Tuesday said that if Israel annexed Palestinian-occupied portions of the West Bank it would "break international law." 

"The annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions," 47 independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said in a statement.

"The acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible. The international community has prohibited annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and widespread human suffering." 

The statement said that Israel's 53-year occupation of Palestinian land "is the source of profound human rights violations" and has led to the "denial of the right of Palestinian self-determination."

A senior United Arab Emirates ambassador wrote a rare op-ed in a major Hebrew-language newspaper earlier this month, warning against plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank. 

"It will ignite violence and rouse extremists," the diplomat said.