Swiss President Speaks With President Rivlin on Annexation, Offers to Mediate

In a phone conversation, Swiss president says country ready to use its 'well proven mediation skills' to restart a meaningful dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga in Bern, Switzerland, April 16, 2020.
President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga in Bern, Switzerland, April 16, 2020.Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga spoke to President Reuven Rivlin Thursday by phone and expressed concern over Israel's plans to move forward with annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Sommaruga also emphasized that annexation goes against international law, and added that Switzerland is ready to use its "well proven mediation skills" to help reinstall a meaningful dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said on Wednesday that he would continue to discuss annexation with the Trump administration, after missing his July 1 target date.

In addition, Netanyahu said the matter was discussed on Wednesday with National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and Israel's security brass, adding that "additional discussions will be held in the coming days."

Also on Wednesday, France's foreign minister said that any Israeli annexation in the West Bank would be in violation of international law and would have consequences. "Annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the perimeters, would seriously throw into question the parameters to resolve the conflict," Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.

Last week, 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.”

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 Trump administration is expected to give Israel a green light to go ahead with annexation, but the scope and timeline has yet to be determined.