EU Members at UN Security Council: Israeli Annexation Would Violate International Law

In closed session on Mideast, envoy Mladenov says Palestinian announcement to severe agreements with Israel, U.S. is 'cry for help' ■ Russian FM tells Israeli counterpart Moscow opposes annexation

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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The United Nations Security Council, March 2020
The United Nations Security Council, March 2020Credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/Reuters
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

The United Nations Security Council is holding a closed-door session on the Middle East on Wednesday.

At the start of the session, European Union representatives addressed the formation of a new Israeli government and expressed concern over its declared intent to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, saying it would be a violation of international law.

Israel's envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, said that "Any decision on the topic of sovereignty will be made solely by the Israeli government with coordination with the American administration."

Danon said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "should come to negotiate in Jerusalem instead of employing diplomatic terrorism," and added that "Leaving agreements with Israel will hurt the Palestinians more than it will Israel."

On Tuesday night, Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority will end all agreements and understandings signed with Israel and the United States, including security agreements, in light of Israel's intent to annex parts of the West Bank.

Speaking at the session, UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said he would be meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Thursday "In order to better understand the practical side of the decision by the leadership and its implications on the ground. If there is one concern that we all share, that is the need for all to work together to prevent escalation and radicalization."

Mladenov then said: "If I may speak openly and very frankly on the issue, whatever our individual assessments of the Palestinian reaction to the Israeli threat of annexation may be, it is certainly one thing – it is a desperate cry for help. It is a call for immediate action. It is a cry for help from a leadership that has invested its life in building institutions and preparing for statehood for over a quarter of a century."

He concluded by saying that "Israel must abandon the threats of annexation," and the Palestinian leadership must resume its dialogue "with all members of The Quartet" – the four international entities responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which include the United States – and that "Everyone must do their part."

Also on Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, that Moscow opposes Israel's annexation plans.

The two spoke when Lavrov called to congratulate Ashkenazi for assuming the foreign affairs portfolio. The Foreign Ministry released a statement thanking Lavrov and said Ashkenazi looks forward to the continued fruitful collaboration between Israel and Russia.

The statement added that the two discussed Iran's presence in Syria and agreed to meet face-to-face as soon as it is permitted.

Over the last two days, several European states and the European Union expressed their opposition to Israel's declared intent to begin annexing parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley as part of U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan.

On Tuesday, Germany and the Palestinian Authority released a joint statement expressing "grave concern" over the possibility. The statement was released after a virtual meeting chaired by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas took place.

"Annexation of any part of occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem constitutes a clear violation of international law and seriously undermines the chances for the two-state solution within a final status agreement," the statement read, adding that Germany “took note of the Palestinian view that such a step would put an end to all signed agreements.”

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