France's Macron Asks Netanyahu Not to Proceed With Annexation

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Netanyahu shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Israel to take part to a Holocaust memorial event in January 2020.
Netanyahu shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Israel to take part to a Holocaust memorial event in January 2020.Credit: Mark Israel Salam

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone late Thursday night, and asked Netanyahu not to proceed with his declared intention to annex parts of the West Bank.

Macron warned the Israeli premier that annexation would breach international law and compromise the possibility of a two-state solution and a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

This is the first conversation on the issue of annexation between the two leaders since the swearing in of the government in May.

Macron also repeated France's friendship with Israel and "unfailing commitment" to its security, the Elysee said.

Netanyahu told Macron that Israel is operating according to international law. He emphasized that the peace attempts of the past have failed for 53 years and to repeat them would bring about an additional failure.

Netanayhu also said that the Trump plan brings fresh ideas that allow for real progress and Israel is ready to negotiate along the lines set out int he plans. He claimed that the Palestinian refusal to give this peace plan and those before it a chance is the main obstacle to progress. 

The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus crisis and agreed to build a joint task force on the matter.

Haaretz has also learned that on June 25, German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Netanyahu to warn him against annexation as well, and on Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Netanyahu that the he vehemently opposes any Israel step to annex parts of the West Bank.

This is the first conversation the two leaders held on the matter, after many weeks of failed attempts to discuss annexation plan via the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, which was unveiled in January.

Both Macron and Johnson attempted to set up a call with Netanyahu for over a week, and were unable to coordinate due to "scheduling issues" before the phone conversations were scheduled.

Netanyahu told Johnson during the phone conversation that “Israel is prepared to conduct negotiations on the basis of President Trump’s peace plan which is both creative and realistic and will not return to the failed formulas of the past.”

The two leaders agreed that British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will discuss the matter of annexation with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi during Raab’s next official visit to Israel. In addition, Netanyahu and Johnson agreed to cooperate in the battle against the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan issued a joint statement 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 our relations with Israel.

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

DPA contributed to this report

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