More than 1,000 lawmakers from 25 European countries have signed onto a statement opposing any unilateral Israeli annexation of West Bank territory. The legislators expressed support for the stance of European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell that annexation “could not pass unchallenged.”
The European parliamentarians’ statement expressed “serious concerns” about the Trump administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians and the imminent prospect of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory. President Donald Trump unveiled the plan in January, which calls for Israeli annexation of up to 30 percent of the West Bank, including of the Jewish settlements there, along with the establishment of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed the intention to begin pursuing annexation of at least some West Bank territory beginning July 1.
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“We are deeply worried about the precedent this would set for international relations at large,” the parliamentarians’ statement said. “For decades, Europe has been promoting a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the form of a two-state solution, in line with international law and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Regrettably, President Trump’s plan departs from internationally agreed parameters and principles. It promotes effectively permanent Israeli control over a fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinians with no sovereignty and giving a green light to Israel to unilaterally annex significant parts of the West Bank.”
Earlier this month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was in Israel on a visit in which the pending prospect of annexation was the major agenda item. In the course of his talks, Netanyahu told him that “every realistic plan must recognize the reality of Israeli settlements on the ground, and not foster the illusion of displacing people from their homes.” For his part, Maas warned that, although Germany was not supportive of sanctions against Israel if it carries out its annexation plans, other countries are pressing the European Union to move in that direction.
The parliamentarians’ statement expressed concern about “the impact of annexation on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as its destabilizing potential in a region on our continent’s doorstep.” It called on European leaders “to act decisively in response to this challenge. Europe must take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict.”
“A lasting solution to the conflict must meet the legitimate aspirations and security needs and guarantee equal rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. Europe has the diplomatic tools to promote this just goal, and we stand ready to support such efforts,” the statement added.
Among the signatories were parliamentarians from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Also signing on were legislators from Britain, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, which are not EU members.
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The signatories include Ireland’s next prime minister, Micheal Martin, Britain’s shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, as well as 13 party leaders and two speakers of parliament.