Jordan said to urge foreign ministers to discourage Israeli West Bank annexation

FM Ayman Safadi reportedly approaches counterparts in Russia, Germany, Egypt, Japan, Sweden and Norway and others in wake of Netanyahu-Gantz deal that includes potential move

A Palestinian boy riding a donkey near the E1 settlement corridor, with Ma'aleh Adumim in the background (photo credit: (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
A Palestinian boy riding a donkey near the E1 settlement corridor, with Ma'aleh Adumim in the background (photo credit: (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Jordan last week approached a number of foreign governments and urged them to pressure Israel not to annex parts of the West Bank, Channel 13 news reported, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz signed a coalition agreement saying the move could potentially go ahead as early as July.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has reportedly approached counterparts in a number of countries including Russia, Germany, Egypt, Japan, Sweden and Norway.

Jordan was said to have warned that a possible annexation would have a “devastating effect,” marking the end of a two-state solution, and having potentially explosive consequences for the Middle East.

According to the report, the overtures made by Safadi were in coordination with the Palestinians, who themselves have launched a campaign against annexation.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (L) meets with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi on June 09, 2019, in Amman. (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

In addition, the Arab League is due to hold an emergency meeting on the matter, Channel 13 reported.

The Netanyahu-Gantz deal stipulates that any Israeli action would need US backing, and must take into account Israel’s peace treaties with neighboring Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab states that have formal peace treaties and diplomatic relations with Israel.

Recent months have seen Amman recall its ambassador to Israel, no joint ceremony marking the quarter-century anniversary of the peace agreement between the two countries, and the termination of special arrangements that allowed Israeli farmers to easily access plots of land inside Jordan.

Senior officials in the European Union and United Nations on Thursday warned Israel against the intention to annex parts of the West Bank, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying that such a move “would constitute a serious violation of international law.”

Borrell said the 27-member bloc does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory and that it will “continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly.”

The Foreign Ministry slammed Borrell over his statement.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, January 31, 2020. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

“It’s unfortunate that Josep Borrell, who pretends to be responsible for the foreign relations of the European Union, chooses in this manner to welcome a new government of a central partner to the EU and prefers to see relations between Israel and the EU through the prism of the pandemic and the ‘status of the territories,’” the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, in a video briefing with the Security Council, which holds a meeting each month on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the UN Middle East peace envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, said an Israeli annexation would deal a “devastating blow” to the internationally backed two-state solution.

The envoy said annexation would also “close the door to a renewal of negotiations and threaten efforts to advance regional peace.”

Nikolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, at Yad Vashem in August 28, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mladenov called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “seize this moment to take steps towards peace” and “reject unilateral moves that will only deepen the wedge between the two peoples and undermine the chances for peace.”

A peace plan unveiled earlier this year by US President Donald Trump — which angered the Palestinians and was rejected by much of the international community — gave Israel the green light to annex settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley area.

Netanyahu and Gantz struck a power-sharing deal to form a national emergency government this week, after three inconclusive elections in less than a year. Netanyahu has heralded the Trump plan as a historic opportunity for Israel but Gantz has been more cautious, offering mixed signals about annexation.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sign their unity government agreement on April 20, 2020 (courtesy)

Netanyahu’s right-wing base is eager to move forward with annexation while the friendly Trump administration is in office.

Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians seek those territories as part of a future independent state. Annexation of West Bank settlements would infuriate the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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