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30 June 2020
Re: Purported Annexation of Palestinian Territories – International Law and its
We are a group of Jewish legal academics, practitioners and jurists.
We write to you out of grave concern relating to reports that Israel is on the cusp of
purporting to annex, by unilateral means, parts of the West Bank, which is considered
Occupied Territory, under international law.
Our letter is not written in a spirit of hostility towards Israel. Each of us is committed to the
right of Israel to exist and to flourish, to be able to live in security without armed threats to
its people, like any other state under the rule of international law. Where Israel’s
sovereignty is threatened through violent attacks, we recognize its right to defend itself
within the limits prescribed by international law.
At the same time, like any state, Israel is required to abide by the principles and rules of
international law. Occupation does not confer sovereignty over the occupied territory on
the occupying power – consequently, extending Israeli sovereignty to any part of the West
Bank would amount to annexation of that territory. Such purported annexation would
fundamentally breach a central prohibition under international law of acquiring territory
pursuant to the threat or use of force. Such an act would also run contrary to other
principles of international law. It would undermine the right of the Palestinian people to
self-determination. It would implicate Israel in violations of international humanitarian law
and international human rights law.
The act of purported annexation would expose Israel to new and grave dangers under
international law. It would implicate Israel’s international responsibility for unlawful actions.
It would cause significant measures to be taken by other states. It would give rise to the risk
of liability for individuals who participate in the decision.
We call upon you to follow the path of the law. We call upon you to desist from any
purported annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Note: Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only