More than 1,000 European MPs call on Israel to halt ‘destabilising’ annexation plans

Letter calls for ‘commensurate consequences’ from European government if Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with plan to annexe 30 per cent of West Bank

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 24 June 2020 20:25 BST
Comments
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to assert Israeli sovereignty over West Bank's Jordan Valley
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to assert Israeli sovereignty over West Bank's Jordan Valley (AFP/Getty Images)

More than a thousand parliamentarians from across Europe have signed a joint letter protesting Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

It is part of a growing international opposition to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to begin annexing parts of the West Bank that have Israeli settlements – potentially as early as 1 July.

The letter sent to all European foreign ministries argued that such a move would “be fatal” to hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Signed by 1,080 parliamentarians from 25 European countries, the letter calls for “commensurate consequences” from European governments If Israel goes ahead with the annexation.

More than 240 signatories are British politicians, including former Conservative leader Lord Howard, former Labour leader Lord Kinnock and the current shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.

The joint letter called for decisive action to “prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict”.

It stated: “Failure to adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law.”

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war and in the decades since has built dozens of settlements that are now home to roughly 400,000 Israelis.

Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal. The Palestinians seek the territory as part of any future independent state.

Palestinian protester opposite Israeli forces during clashes over settlements in the Jordan Valley, 25 February 2020 (Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP via Getty Images)
Palestinian protester opposite Israeli forces during clashes over settlements in the Jordan Valley, 25 February 2020 (Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP via Getty Images) (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Netanyahu’s government has yet to publish details of the proposed annexation but the prime minister has called for roughly 30 per cent of the territory, including the Jordan Valley, to be annexed by Israel.

Donald Trump’s plan for Middle East, rejected by the Palestinians, approves of the incorporation of the settlements in 30 per cent of the territory.

The letter published said the Trump administration’s plan advocated “effectively permanent Israeli control over a fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinians with no sovereignty and giving a green light to Israel to unilaterally annexe significant parts of the West Bank”.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged Israel on Tuesday to listen to global calls and not to proceed with annexation plans, saying they “would be a major factor to destabilise the region”.

Boris Johnson said last week that he strongly opposed annexation of parts of the West Bank, which would “amount to a breach of international law”.

One senior EU diplomat, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters on Tuesday that the bloc will almost certainly fail to reach the unanimity required for joint action should annexation take place.

“It’s hell in the EU to try to get a common position on this,” the official said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in