The World Council of Churches is asking European diplomats to punish Israel with sanctions if it applies sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria (often referred to as the West Bank). 

The call to punish Israel came last month in a letter to EU foreign ministers from the Geneva headquarters of the council, an umbrella body established in 1948 that now has 350 member churches with about 500,000 followers among them. 
 
If Israel annexes land, the letter said, “the EU must surely suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement,” a reference to a 1995 contract that promotes trade between the bloc and the Jewish state. In addition, the EU should apply sanctions on Israel “at least commensurate with those adopted by the EU in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”
Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Roman Catholic counterpart Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster announced that they had sent joint letters to the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson opposing any move made by Israel to annex parts of Judea and Samaria.

statement released on Friday by Justin Welby and Vincent Nichols said the sent letters made clear that they “unambiguously support the fundamental right of Israel’s citizens to live in peace and safety but these prospects can only be secured through negotiation rather than annexation.” It continued that it is essential “both Israelis and Palestinians may live without violence or the threat of violence from each other or other armed groups.”

See also: Israel’s legal case for Judea and Samaria

“Annexation presents the best chance for peace”

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Colonel Richard Kemp, Lord Simon Reading and film-maker Hugh Kitson wrote to urge the UK to recognise Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank as Johnson wrote to MPs saying that the UK was opposed to such plans. It came after 126 MPs and Peers expressed “outrage” at Israel’s plans to annex and called on the UK to “sanction” the Jewish state for what the MPs wrongly define as an “illegal action”.

Col Kemp wrote that he has drawn on his experience of working for the Joint Intelligence Committee to conclude that “the US Administration’s current peace proposals, including sovereignty implementation, in fact represent the best chance for a lasting peace between the two sides as well as a future two-state solution”.

He added: “I believe that this plan also has the potential to bring much-needed prosperity for the Palestinian people as well as greater stability to the region”.

The letter also attacked the campaign by the 126 parliamentarians for suggesting that “the UK’s response to Israel’s implementation of sovereignty should be to punish the State of Israel with sanctions and other action”.

They write: “On the contrary, I urge you to publicly support Israel’s implementation should it occur, as well as the other components of the US peace proposal.

“Increasing rather than damaging Britain’s trade relationship with Israel is in this country’s economic interest.

“Equally important, as you are well aware, the security of British citizens at home and overseas relies heavily on the continued strong intelligence, defence and technology relationship with Israel.”

They also pointed out in a separate letter that the 1920 San Remo Conference, which recognised the right of the Jewish people to “reconstitute their historic homeland’’, gave their argument legal force.

See also: Israel’s legal case for Judea and Samaria

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