Israel West Bank annexation rejected by European MPs

Such a move will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations, they say in a letter

Photo: Reuters Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing his plans

Any Israeli move to annex parts of the West Bank would be “fatal” for Middle East peace hopes and must be prevented, if necessary with countermeasures, more than 1,000 lawmakers from across Europe said in a letter to European governments. The 23 June letter, signed by 1,080 lawmakers from 25 Member States and made public on Wednesday, claims annexation would break international law.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set 1 July as the date for the start of cabinet discussions on moving forward on annexation, in line with Trump’s plan that envisages Israeli sovereignty over 30% of the West Bank and Palestinian statehood under strict conditions.

“Such a move (annexation) will be fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations,” the letter said, as quoted by Reuters.

“Acquisition of territory by force has no place in 2020,” added the lawmakers, who included members of parliament from Hungary and the Czech Republic, two countries sympathetic to Israel and to Trump’s 28 January peace plan.

The plan offers US recognition of Israel’s settlements dotted across the West Bank, and Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley - land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and claimed by Palestinians for a future state.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014 and the Palestinians see annexations as an illegal land grab.

The United Nations Security Council has said settlements violate international law. Israel disputes this, citing biblical, historical and political connections to the land.

The European lawmakers called for “commensurate consequences” if Israel, which has more than 400,000 settlers in the West Bank, went ahead with annexation - a reference to possible economic, trade or other sanctions.

“Failure to adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims,” the letter said.

Netanyahu has so far dismissed criticism of the annexation plans. He says that extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank will bring peace closer once critics of the move recognise that hundreds of thousands of settlers in the area will remain under any future deal.

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