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Nandy calls for UK import ban on Israel settlements over annexations: Report

Labour hardens stance to apply import ban if Israel's West Bank plans go ahead amid mounting international opposition
Move would require "courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show", UK's shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy says (AFP/File photo)

The UK must ban the imports from illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank if Israel presses ahead with annexation plans, said Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, the Guardian reported.

The move would be a "major step" and require "courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show", she said. But "such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences".

Nandy's proposal, backed by party leader Keir Starmer, is a significant toughening of Labour's policy on Israel. In its 2019 manifesto, the party merely called for a diplomatic solution, the Guardian noted.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has said Israel will "apply sovereignty" to as much as 30 percent of the occupied West Bank as early as Wednesday, despite mounting international opposition and warnings that annexation would kill off a future Palestinian state.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this week called on Israel to abandon its plan to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley, saying it would violate international law and "grievously harm" the prospect of a two-state solution. The warning was echoed by other world leaders, including the Arab League, which said Israel's actions may trigger a major escalation of conflict in the region.

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 European legislators from 25 countries urged their leaders to stop Israel's annexation plans, AFP reported. In a letter published in newspapers and sent to European foreign ministers, the parliamentarians, including 240 UK signatories, said they were "deeply worried about the precedent this would set for international relations".

On Friday, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives voted to create a list of potential "counter-measures" that could be implemented should Israel go forward with its West Bank annexation plans. 

In February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK government's position on Israel-Palestine was unchanged in the wake of Donald Trump's proposals for the region, but the US president's plan should be given "genuine and fair consideration". Trump's so-called "deal of the century" is widely seen as a one-sided blueprint for Israeli annexation.

The Trump administration’s support for Netanyahu's plan might discourage UK action for fear of jeopardising a UK-US trade deal, Nandy said. But Britain has a "unique moral responsibility and must step up. Should we fail to do so, the world will pay the price for a long time to come.

"It is a shameful proposition to which the UK cannot be a silent witness. Across the world, concern is growing... So far, the UK government has been conspicuously absent from this global response," the Guardian quoted Nandy as saying.

"This is now urgent. The government must be clear with the Israeli coalition government that concrete action will follow, including a ban on goods entering Britain from the illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is a major step, but such a blatant breach of international law must have consequences. It will take a level of courage that so far ministers have not been willing to show."

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