Netanyahu Discusses Annexation With Boris Johnson as Allies Warn Move Could Impact Relations

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in London, June 24, 2018.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in London, June 24, 2018. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday over the phone that he vehemently opposes any Israeli 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.

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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 a joint video conference, the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan issued a statement saying: “We exchanged views on the current status of the Middle East peace process and its regional impact. We unanimously believe that any annexation of the Palestinian Territories occupied in 1967 would violate international law and endanger the foundations of the peace process. We would not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders that were not agreed by both parties to the conflict.

“We also agree that such a move would have serious implications for the security and stability of the region and would be a major obstacle to efforts to achieve a full and just peace. It could also have an impact on relations with Israel. We emphasize our strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution based on international law and relevant UN resolutions. We discussed how a constructive fresh start can be made between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and we offer our support in opening a path to negotiations,” the statement added.

Last week, Johnson told Israel it should not go ahead with annexation cautioning that London would not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines.

"Annexation would represent a violation of international law," Johnson said in an opinion piece for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's top-selling daily. "It would also be a gift to those who want to perpetuate the old stories about Israel."

"I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead," he said. "If it does, the UK will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties." Johnson is doubling down on comments he made in mid-June also arguing any annexation would be a breach of international law. 

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.

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