Iran, Proxies Threaten Israel Over 'Evil' West Bank Annexation Plan

The Iranian regime and its allies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip have warned they will confront Israel if its government pushes ahead with a plan to annex parts of the Palestinian West Bank—a move considered illegal under international law and widely condemned by the international community.

The new Israeli coalition government, currently led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to West Bank Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, representing some 30 percent of all West Bank land.

The annexation will be part of President Donald Trump's controversial peace plan, which has been dismissed by Palestinian leaders as an Israel-designed blueprint for permanent subjugation of the Palestinian people.

In a letter sent to Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh published Tuesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his nation would spare no effort in helping to "eliminate the evil threat posed by the fraudulent, usurping Zionist regime," referring to Israel.

Meanwhile, Hamas—which has controlled the embargoed Gaza Strip since seizing control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007—and the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group called for Muslim nations to unify against the Israeli plan. Both groups are funded and armed by Iran.

Haniyeh wrote to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday stressing the "grave dangers" posed by the annexation, and calling on Nasrallah to rally opposition to it. "The Palestinian people are capable of confronting this plan," the letter read, according to the Associated Press.

Haniyeh urged Arab and Muslim nations and "free people of the world to quickly move to stop the occupation's continuous aggression against the Palestinian people."

The Iranian semi-official news agency Fars said the letter was received by the head of Hezbollah's Palestinian file Hassan Hoballah, who reiterated his group's support for Hamas and its commitment to oppose Israeli occupation and annexation.

Hamas has previously described Israel's annexation plans as a "declaration of war" and vowed to "make the enemy bite his fingers in remorse for this sinful decision."

The Israeli plan—publicly approved by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman—will extend Israeli sovereignty to illegal settlements in the West Bank which are home to more than 427,000 people, as shown by the below Statista infographic.

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This Statista infographic shows the growing number of Israelis living in West Bank settlements year on year. Statista

Critics have warned that annexation will kill any chance of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Much of the land that would one day constitute a Palestinian state in the West Bank is already under the de facto control of Israeli authorities, however.

The peace plan would establish a demilitarized Palestinian state in the areas that remain—an archipelago of smaller territories split up by Israeli land, checkpoints and strategic areas occupied by the military.

Netanyahu was hoping to begin the process on July 1 but was delayed by opposition from coalition partner Benny Gantz—the leader of the Blue and White coalition, who is currently defense minister and will take over as prime minister in November 2021. Gantz argued that Israel must bring its COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak under control before turning to the West Bank.

Netanyahu is also waiting on final U.S. approval for the annexation. Reports indicate that Israeli and U.S. officials are still discussing the process and that there may be movement on the issue by the end of July.

Hamas, IRan, proxies, West Bank, annexation, ISrael
Fighters from the Ezz-Al Din Al-Qassam Brigades—the armed wing of the Hamas movement—take part in an anti-Israel military parade in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 11, 2019. SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images/Getty