Germany, Palestinian Authority Release Joint Statement Against Israeli Annexation Plan

Germany takes note of Palestinian view that annexation would put an end to all signed agreements between Israel and the PA

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
Settlers erecting the illegal West Bank outpost of Givat Eitam, September 20, 2018
Settlers erecting the illegal West Bank outpost of Givat Eitam, September 20, 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

UPDATE: Palestinian President Abbas declares end to agreements with Israel, U.S.

Germany and the Palestinian Authority released a joint statement on Tuesday expressing "grave concern" over Israel's declared intention to begin annexing parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Annexing parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley as part of U.S. President Donald Trump's "deal of the century" was a central promise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's latest election campaign. Former political rivals turned allies Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi have also expressed their support for the administration's plan.

Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown Credit: Haaretz

The statement, which follows similar warnings from other European countries and the European Union, was released after a virtual meeting chaired by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas took place.

The statement observes that the two sides "noted with grave concern the agreement between coalition parties in Israel to advance plans for annexation of occupied Palestinian territories as stipulated in the Israeli coalition agreement signed on 20 April," referring to the deal signed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan

"Annexation of any part of occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem constitutes a clear violation of international law and seriously undermines the chances for the two-state solution within a final status agreement," the statement read, and that Germany “took note of the Palestinian view that such a step would put an end to all signed agreements.”

Earlier on Tuesday, France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said said that unilateral measures by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley will have consequences for its relations with the European Union.

Le Drian stressed in his statement that "France remains fully prepared to support any effort to resume negotiations between the parties, the only path to peace, security and regional stability," and congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his deputy, Benny Gantz for their success in forming a government.

He urged Israel to refrain from "any unilateral measure which would lead to the annexation of all or part of the Palestinian Territories," as any such action "could not be without consequences for the European Union's relations with Israel."

In the statement, Le Drian said France "reaffirms its will to continue working with the new Israeli government in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic," as well as "its unwavering attachment to the security of Israel and its commitment alongside Israel for regional security."

On Monday, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell reiterated it would not "recognize any changes to the 1967 borders unless agreed by Israelis and Palestinians."

Israel's Foreign Ministry blasted the EU for practicing "megaphone diplomacy" on after Borrell's statement.

It was "regrettable that once again, the security of Israel, a key partner of the EU, and the threats that Israel face, were not mentioned at all and were not given the centrality that they should be [sic] in such a message," said the Israeli Foreign Ministry statement.

"This 'megaphone diplomacy' is not a substitute for intimate diplomatic dialogue and will not advance the role the EU is seeking to fulfill," it said.

Borell's statement noted "With grave concern the provision... on the annexation of parts of occupied Palestinian territories," the statement added. "We strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to International Law." Borrell's original statement received support from all members of the European Union, except Hungary.

Annexing parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley was a central promise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's latest election campaign. Despite Kahol Lavan keeping the issue of at arm's length, both Benny Gantz and co-leader Gabi Ashkenazi, now the foreign minister, have voiced support for the Trump administration's peace plan. A major item of the plan is the transfer of some parts of the West Bank to Israeli sovereignty.

In his first speech as minister on Monday, Ashkenazi said he saw the plan as a "historic opportunity to shape the future of the State of Israel for decades to come." He also vowed to improve ties with Jordan, despite Amman's repeated statements that annexation would be unacceptable.

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