JERUSALEM (AP) — The European Union on Thursday issued a warning against the incoming Israeli government’s intention to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, saying that such a move “would constitute a serious violation of international law.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the 27-member bloc does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian territory and that it will “continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly.”
Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz signed a coalition agreement that includes a clause to advance plans to annex parts of the West Bank, including Israeli settlements, starting on July 1.
Netanyahu’s pro-settler base is eager to move forward with annexation while the friendly administration of President Donald Trump’s is in office.
The White House’s long-awaited Mideast plan, unveiled earlier this year, envisions leaving parts of the West Bank under permanent Israeli control. The Palestinians have rejected the plan as biased.
Israel captured the West Bank during the 1967 Mideast war. Since then, more than 700,000 Israelis have moved into settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal according to international law and an obstacle to a two-state solution to the conflict.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of an independent state. Annexation of West Bank settlements would infuriate the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbors, and eliminate any lingering hopes of establishing a viable Palestinian state.
The Netanyahu-Gantz deal stipulates that any Israeli action would need U.S. backing, and must take into account Israel’s peace treaties with neighboring Jordan and Egypt.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded to the EU with a statement deploring that Borrell “opts to see the relations between Israel and the European Union” solely through the “status of the territories.”