Over 1,000 MPs from across Europe call for ‘decisive action’ against annexation

Left- and right-wing lawmakers say failure to ‘adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law’

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

The Austrian parliament session in Vienna, Austria, January 10, 2020. (Ronald Zak/AP)
The Austrian parliament session in Vienna, Austria, January 10, 2020. (Ronald Zak/AP)

More than a thousand lawmakers from across Europe on Tuesday signed a statement against Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank, 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. It was first reported by the Haaretz newspaper.

“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.”

“Europe must take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict,” it said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has vowed that annexation “could not pass unchallenged,” the statement noted.

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)

“We fully support this: acquisition of territory by force has no place in 2020 and must have commensurate consequences,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Failure to adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of international law. The rules-based global order is central to Europe’s own long-term stability and security. We have a profound interest and responsibility to protect it,” they added.

A lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must “guarantee equal rights of both Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement went on. “Europe has the diplomatic tools to promote this just goal, and we stand ready to support such efforts.”

Also on Tuesday, more than a hundred lawmakers from Europe and Israel signed a letter to Borrell calling on Brussels to convene the EU-Israel Association Council, ministerial meetings that usually take place annually but which have been suspended since 2012 due to disagreements over the peace process.

In the letter, initiated by Antonio López-Istúriz White, the chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel, the parliamentarians lamented that the Council has not held a formal meeting for nearly a decade, “despite pressing challenges and significant shared interests.”

Signatories, among whom were former French prime minister Manuel Valls, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid and Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, urged the EU to relaunch the Council as an “effective forum for close dialogue and consultation.”

“Israel is a key partner for the European Union and we should keep close cooperation and continuous dialogue,” López-Istúriz White, a Spaniard, said Tuesday.

Members of the House of Representatives walk down the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, March 27, 2020. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Israel’s pending annexation has also occupied lawmakers in the United States.

On Monday, more than 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to Netanyahu stressing their belief that “Israel has the right to make sovereign decisions independent of outside pressure, and to express our support for you as you make such decisions in your capacity as Israel’s democratically-elected prime minister.”

The lawmakers reaffirmed “Israel’s right to sovereignty and defensible borders,” they wrote in the letter.

Meanwhile, some 170 House Democrats, including majority leader Steny Hoyer, signed a letter warning against the dangers of annexation.

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