West Bank Annexation Will Harm Israel's Relations With Germany but Berlin Will Oppose Sanctions, Officials Believe

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, 2018Credit: Chaim Tzach / GPO
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Moving ahead with annexing parts of the West Bank will harm Israel's relations with Germany, officials in Israel's foreign ministry believe.

LISTEN: Annexation vexation comes between Bibi and the settlers

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The officials said, however, that they do not expect Berlin to sanction Israel nor support imposing them or will take dramatic steps if land annexation goes through. But they added that annexation may change the nature of the relationship between Germany and Israel and may affect Germany's willingness to support Israel on various issues.

According to sources within the ministry, Israel's intent to annex West Bank settlements is a grave concern for Germany, which seeks to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians and prevent a violent escalation in the region. 

Germany is a key ally of Israel in international organizations, but is also a staunt defender of international law institutions.

As reported in Haaretz Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declarations that annexation will be promoted on July 1, in less than one month, have put Berlin in a major quandary. On July 1, Germany will be taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union and will be assuming the presidency of the UN Security Council. These two roles will require the Germans to choose between their allegiance to international law and UN resolutions on the one hand, and their historical commitment to Israel on the other

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will land in Israel on Wednesday and will meet with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and other Israeli officials. In the afternoon, he will meet with Palestinian officials over video conference, and in the evening will depart to Jordan.

Although the official purpose of the visit by Maas is to become acquainted with his new Israeli counterpart, he is also expected to ask Israel to avoid putting Germany in a difficult position by pushing ahead with its intentions to annex lands in the West Bank.