Dutch MPs urge list of possible sanctions in response to Israeli annexation

Dutch MPs urge list of possible sanctions in response to Israeli annexation

Non-binding motion calls annexation a ‘gross violation of international law’ and notes the Netherlands has taken similar measures against other countries

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

The Binnenhof, the seat of the Dutch government, in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2014 (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)
The Binnenhof, the seat of the Dutch government, in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2014 (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

The Dutch parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution urging the government to explore possible sanctions against Israel if it goes ahead with its plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank.

The resolution calls on the country’s foreign minister to “to identify options of measures possibly to be taken should Israel proceed with annexation of Palestinian territory.”

It passed 87-63 with no abstentions. The People’s Party for Freedom — the slate of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Minister Stef Blok — opposed the resolution not on substance but because of “timing,” officials said, noting that it was too early for a such a resolution given that Israel had not yet decided if and how it would proceed with annexation.

The non-binding motion called annexation a “gross violation of international law” and noted that the Netherlands has in the past “taken measures against countries that violate international law.”

The German Bundestag is expected to discuss a resolution condemning Jerusalem’s annexation plan as well, though no draft has been presented yet and it is unclear whether the motion would garner a majority. Most German lawmakers, though not all, are opposed to annexation, but are unlikely to call for sanctions against the Jewish state.

Earlier on Tuesday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, hinted at possible punitive sanctions against Israel as a response to annexation.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell after a meeting of EU foreign ministers by videoconference at the European Council building in Brussels on June 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

“There is a strong bond between Israel and Europe and we want to strengthen this bond and further deepen our relations, not see them retract,” he wrote in an op-ed published by two Israeli newspapers. “However, this is what will inevitably happen if unilateral annexation goes ahead,” he added.

On Friday, the Belgian parliament passed with an overwhelming majority a resolution urging Brussels to act to prevent Israel from unilaterally annexing parts of the West Bank and to actively advocate for European-wide punitive measures against Jerusalem if it proceeds with its controversial plan.

The motion urged the government of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès “to take the initiative with third countries, at European and multilateral levels, to prevent the annexation [by] Israel of the Palestinian territories, or parts of them.”

The resolution further calls on Brussels to play a leading role in formulating a “list of efficient countermeasures geared at responding in a proportional manner to any Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.”

It passed with 101 yes votes and 39 abstentions. No one voted against.

Also last week, more than a thousand lawmakers from across Europe signed a statement against Israel’s planned annexation, urging decisive action to prevent the move and punitive measures if it goes ahead.

“We, parliamentarians from across Europe committed to a rules-based global order, share serious concerns about [US] President [Donald] Trump’s plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the imminent prospect of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory. We are deeply worried about the precedent this would set for international relations at large,” the statement read.

The US peace plan, which forms the basis for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the entire Jordan Valley and all settlements across the West Bank — amounting to some 30 percent of the territory — starting July 1, “departs from internationally agreed parameters and principles,” the statement added.

Annexation would be “fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations,” it went on.

The statement was signed by lawmakers belonging to parties across the political spectrum from 25 countries, including some considered to be very friendly toward Israel such as Germany and Hungary.

“We are profoundly concerned 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 stated.

The statement then went on to ask European leaders “to act decisively in response to this challenge.”

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