On the 29th April 2020, Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the PLO, shared their perspective on recent political developments and the prospect of annexation of Israeli settlements, in a meeting organised by Forward Thinking. The meeting was held under Chatham House rule and was attended by current and former diplomats from the Foreign Ministries of Sweden, France, Germany, Spain and Ireland.

Following the release of the Trump Administration’s Middle East Peace plan, there has been growing momentum within Israel to annex territory in the West Bank, primarily settlements and the Jordan Valley. A core pillar of the coalition deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz is based upon bringing forward legislation to initiate annexation. A likely timeframe for this is between July 2020 and the next US Presidential elections on 3rd November 2020.

Participants at the workshop warned that annexation would be a turning point in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with consequences that may be difficult to reverse. Whilst many governments are focused on the COVID-19 response, there is a need to hear Palestinian perspectives to build a better awareness of potential responses to annexation. To this end, Forward Thinking will continue to convene workshops with high level figures throughout the region.