Nearly 450 European parliamentarians have signed a letter sent Sunday evening to foreign ministers in Europe, urging them to take advantage of the change in U.S. administration to renew pressure on Israel to stop its “de facto annexation” of the West Bank.
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Among the signatories are lawmakers from 22 European countries, as well as members of the European Union parliament. The vast majority are affiliated with parties on the center-left, such as the Social Democrats and the Greens. More than a third of the signatories are from the United Kingdom, most of them members of the Labour party.
“The beginning of the Biden presidency provides a much-needed opportunity to address the Israeli-Palestinians conflict with renewed effort,” they wrote.
“The previous U.S. administration left the conflict farther away from peace than ever. The Biden administration presents a chance to correct course and creates greater space for meaningful European engagement and leadership. In parallel, the announcement of Palestinian elections to be held in the coming months offers an opportunity for Palestinian political renewal and reunification.”
The parliamentarians note in their letter that the normalization agreements recently signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain caused the Israeli government to suspend its plans to annex large chunks of the West Bank. “However, developments on the ground clearly point to a reality of rapidly progressing de facto annexation, especially through accelerated settlement expansion and demolitions of Palestinian structures,” they wrote.
Such policies, they noted, “are eliminating the possibility of a two-state solution and entrenching a one-state reality of unequal rights and perpetual conflict. For this to be the future of the region is both unacceptable and strategically unviable.”
In their letter, the parliamentarians call on European nations to work together with the Biden administrations and the relevant parties in the Middle East to prevent “unilateral action” – a reference to Israeli policy in the West Bank – that could undermine the chances of achieving peace.
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“In this effort, the EU and European countries should demonstrate their leadership, making use of their range of available of policy tools,” they wrote.
The letter was the initiative of four prominent Israeli peace activists: Zehava Galon, the former chairwoman of Meretz; Avrum Burg, a former head of the Jewish Agency and former Labor MK and Knesset speaker; Naomi Chazan, the former president of the New Israel Fund and Michael Ben-Yair, a former attorney general.