Joint List to EU: Suspend ties with Israel if it doesn’t renounce annexation
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Joint List to EU: Suspend ties with Israel if it doesn’t renounce annexation

Majority-Arab party urges European bloc to leverage its relationship with Jewish state and urge member states to recognize Palestine

Ayman Odeh (C), leader of the Hadash party that is part of the Joint List alliance, gives an address with other alliance leaders at their electoral headquarters in Israel's northern city of Shefa Amr on March 2, 2020 Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)
Ayman Odeh (C), leader of the Hadash party that is part of the Joint List alliance, gives an address with other alliance leaders at their electoral headquarters in Israel's northern city of Shefa Amr on March 2, 2020 Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

The Joint List majority-Arab party on Tuesday called on the European Union to suspend its ties with Israel unless Jerusalem announces it has abandoned its plans to annex large parts of the West Bank as envisioned by the Trump peace plan.

In letters to senior EU officials, including foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the 15 Joint List MKs claim that “the traditional approach based on providing incentives to Israel has thus far failed to achieve our shared legitimate positions.”

The party calls on the EU to “seriously examine all options and make it clear that it will suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement should Israel fail to declare that it has permanently abandoned its expansionist aims.” The referenced agreement represents the main legal ties between Israel and Brussels.

The Joint List also urges the EU to encourage member states to recognize the state of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders. “Such a step would express strong support for Israelis and Palestinians striving for reconciliation,” the party claims.

“Reaction to annexation should also include full implementation of the policy of differentiation between Israel and the settlements in all businesses,” the letter states. “These steps will make significant progress toward rectifying grave injustices committed toward the Palestinian people and moving Israel and Palestine toward peace.”

In explaining its opposition to the Trump peace plan, however, the party erroneously claims in the letter that it calls for Israel to annex “over 40% of the West Bank” when it actually envisions Israel annexing roughly 30% of the territory. In addition, it erroneously states that the US proposal calls for “Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin to be unilaterally transferred from their homeland into the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The plan in fact “contemplates the possibility” that the Triangle, an area southeast of Haifa near the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin, be included in a Palestinian state “subject to agreement of the parties.” But Prime Minister Netanyahu has disavowed the suggestion following massive uproar from Arab-Israeli leadership.

The Joint List has sent similar letters to lawmakers around the world, including US Congressional Democrats and political parties in the UK.

Earlier on Tuesday 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.

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.

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