"I call upon Israel to abandon its annexation plans," says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that such a move would "threaten efforts to advance regional peace."

A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against Israel's planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank , held in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, on June 23, 2020.
A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest against Israel's planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank , held in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, on June 23, 2020. (Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Israel to drop plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, saying it would be a "most serious violation of international law." 

In a report to the UN Security Council that was released on Tuesday ahead of its twice-yearly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, set for Wednesday, Guterres said an Israeli annexation would be "devastating" for hopes of fresh negotiations and an eventual two-state solution.

Several ministers are set to take part at the request of the Arab League.

"I call upon Israel to abandon its annexation plans," the UN chief says in the report, adding that such a move would "threaten efforts to advance regional peace."

"If implemented, this would constitute a most serious violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations."

Guterres noted the opposition to annexation, including within Israeli society.

"This would be calamitous for Palestinians, Israelis and the region," he says.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it could begin the annexation process from July 1.

Hundreds of Israelis had gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to denounce the government's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

READ MORE: This is why Netanyahu is confident he can annex the occupied West Bank

Plans are to annex illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.

The plan – endorsed by Washington – would see the creation of a Palestinian state, but on reduced territory, and without Palestinians' core demand of a capital in east Jerusalem.

The plan has been rejected in its entirety by the Palestinians.

READ MORE: A deafening silence over Israeli annexation from Arab leaders

The Security Council meeting, to be held by video conference, will be the last major international meeting on the issue before the July 1 deadline.

"Any decision on sovereignty will be made only by the Israeli government," Israel's UN Envoy Danny Danon said on Tuesday in a statement.

Diplomats who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said a vast majority of UN members would again oppose the Israeli plans on Wednesday.

"We must send a clear message," one envoy said, adding that it was "not enough" to simply condemn Israeli policy, and raising the possibility of a case before the International Court of Justice.

When President Donald Trump shifted US policy by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, 14 of 15 Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the decision in late 2017 – but the US used its veto.

A similar resolution was then presented in the UN General Assembly, where no nation has veto power – it passed with 128 yes votes, and 35 abstentions.

READ MORE: EU ‘sanctions’ considered over Israel’s West Bank annexation plans

Diplomats, however, seemed to rule out the idea that Israel could face sanctions over the move, as were imposed by certain countries after Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"Any annexation would have quite big consequences for the two-state solution in the peace process," said another ambassador on condition of anonymity.

Source: AFP