Annexation Puts EU-Israel Cooperation at Risk, EU Foreign Policy Chief Says

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EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Josep Borrell arrives for a press conference following a videoconference with EU Defence Ministers in Brussels on June 16, 2020.
EU foreign affairs high representative Josep Borrell arrives for a press conference following a videoconference with EU Defence Ministers in Brussels on June 16, 2020.Credit: Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP

The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reiterated the regional institution's rejection of the prospect of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank on Wednesday, saying it could put the relationship between the EU and Israel in jeopardy. 

In a blog post written on the European Union External Action website, he lent his support to a statement released after a multilateral meeting between Egypt, France, Germany and Jordan, which vowed not to recognize any changes to the 1967 borders.

"We will spare no diplomatic efforts to help Israel understand the risks of proceeding with the unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank,” Borrell wrote, adding that it was "in no one’s interest for this relationship [between the EU and Israel] to retract."

Borell also warned that the annexation would have negative consequences on regional stability, including on Israel's own security, but also had "implications for the whole rules-based international order, affecting other conflict zones."

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan issued a joint statement Tuesday saying that they categorically reject Israel’s plan to annex part of the West Bank, and that such a move would “violate international law and could also have an impact on relations with Israel.”

"We would not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders that were not agreed by both parties to the conflict," the statement said. It also offered "support in opening a path to negotiations” between Israelis and Palestinians.

After missing his July 1 target date to start the annexation process, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he would continue to discuss the matter with the Trump administration.

In June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Netanyahu that other nations would cast sanctions on Israel, and possibly officially recognize a Palestinian state, if Israel follows through on its intention to annex part of the West Bank.

In all of his meetings with Israeli officials during his visit, Maas stressed that unilateral annexation violates international law and UN decisions, and it would be difficult for Germany to support such a move. His remarks come after the Belgian Parliament began to appeal to the government in recent weeks aiming to recognizing a Palestinian state in response to Israeli annexation. Other countries in Europe and Latin America are considering a similar move.

Late last month, more than 1,000 lawmakers from 25 European countries signed onto a statement opposing any unilateral Israeli annexation of West Bank territory. 

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