European envoys warn Israel against West Bank annexation

Eleven European ambassadors, led by the UK, have issued a formal protest to Israel over its planned annexation of Palestinian land.

The ambassadors of the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, along with the deputy ambassador to the EU, issued a warning to Anna Azari, Israeli Foreign Ministry’s European deputy, in a meeting via a Zoom conference call.

The group demanded the Israeli government freeze plans to allow construction in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem and warned that annexation would contravene international law.

The Times of Israel reported the ambassadors saying: “We are very concerned about the clause in the coalition agreement that paves the way for annexing parts of the West Bank. The annexation of any part of the West Bank constitutes a clear violation of international law.”

Adding, “such unilateral steps will harm efforts to renew the peace process and will have grave consequences for regional stability and for Israel’s standing in the international arena.”

In its meeting yesterday, the Arab League, however, said that the proposed annexation of land in the West Bank will end the two-state solution, terming the move a “new war crime… against the Palestinian people”.

The organization also urged the US to withdraw support for annexation plans by Israel, in the virtual conference, chaired in Cairo.

The US’ Trump Administration, however, has indicated that it would approve annexations but added that acceptance is subject to Israeli recognition of the right of Palestinian statehood.

A spokesperson from the US’ State Department said, “the annexation would be in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood based on specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions and generous economic support. This is an unprecedented and highly beneficial opportunity for the Palestinians.”

Yesterday, US officials told their Israeli counterparts that the self-declared Jewish state cannot act on sections of the deal while ignoring the rest.

In January, US President Donald Trump unveiled a Middle East peace plan intended to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan greenlights continued annexation of West Bank lands by Israel, while purporting to allow the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.

Under the plan, the new Palestinian state would be made up of between 70 and 80 per cent of the West Bank, with pockets of land in southern Israel, and most of the Gaza strip.

The plan was immediately rejected by Palestinians and much of the international community. Despite widespread condemnation, however, the US and Israel have signaled intent to implement the plan unilaterally.

While an Israeli coalition government agreement last week includes a framework for starting annexations in July.