EU warns incoming Israeli government against West Bank annexation

EU does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over Palestinian territory

FILE - This Jan. 26, 2020 file photo shows a general view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Michmash. The European Union on Thursday, April 23, 2020 issued a warning against the incoming Israeli government’s intention to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, saying that such a move “would constitute a serious violation of international law.” (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

The EU on Thursday warned against the new Israeli government’s intention to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, saying such a move “would constitute a serious violation of international law”.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc would “continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly”.

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz signed a coalition agreement that includes a clause to advance plans to annex parts of the West Bank, including illegal Israeli settlements, starting on July 1.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell addresses a video press conference at the conclusion of a video conference of EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP)

Mr Netanyahu’s pro-settler base is eager to move forward with annexation while the friendly administration of US President Donald Trump is in office.

The White House’s Middle East plan, unveiled this year, envisions leaving parts of the West Bank under permanent Israeli control. The Palestinians have rejected the plan as biased.

Israel captured the West Bank during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Since then, more than 700,000 Israelis have moved into settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Most of the global community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal under international law and an obstacle to a two-state solution to the conflict.

The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as part of an independent state.

Annexation of West Bank settlements would infuriate the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbours, and eliminate any lingering hopes of a viable Palestinian state.

The Netanyahu-Gantz deal stipulates that any Israeli action would need US backing and must take into account Israel’s peace treaties with neighbouring Jordan and Egypt.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded to the EU by saying it deplored that Mr Borrell “opts to see the relations between Israel and the European Union” solely through the “status of the territories”.

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