Josep Borrell ‘’strongly’’ urged Israel ‘’to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory.’’
He said he had the opportunity of expressing this point of view in phone calls with the new Israeli Foreign and Defense Ministers, Gaby Ashkenazi and Bennny Gantz.
Borrell added that from an European Union perspective, ‘’annexation would inevitably have significant consequences for the close relationship we currently enjoy with Israel.”
Twenty-five out of twenty-seven EU member states consider that a possible annexation of parts of the West Bank would be against international law, said EU foreign affairs chief as he addressed on Thursday a debate on this issue in the European Parliament in Brussels.
‘‘Our position is clear, although once again it is difficult to find unanimity but there is a strong, very strong majority of countries that continue supporting a negotiated two-state solution, based on international parameters and considering that any annexation would be against international law.’’
The two countries that are opposing such a position appears to be Hungary and Austria.
Borrell ‘’strongly’’ urged Israel ‘’to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory.’’
‘’We engage with our Israeli partners to avoid such a step before it is too late. We are using all our diplomatic capacities in order to put pressure for that not to happen,’’ Borrell said.
‘’I have also been in close contact with the Palestinian leadership and other key Arab representatives. Several European Union Foreign Ministers passed the same messages. The issue took an important part in the discussion with U.S. Secretary o State Mike Pompeo’’ on Monday, he said.
He stressed that an annexation decision ‘’would constitute a serious violation of international law, would cause real damage to the prospects for a two-state solution and would negatively affect regional stability, our relations with Israel and between Israel and Arab States, and potentially the security of Israel, which is not negotiable for us.’’
Borrell added that from an European Union perspective, ‘’annexation would inevitably have significant consequences for the close relationship we currently enjoy with Israel,’’ without elaborating if this would mean EU sanctions or other measures against Israel.
In response to MEPs from the Socialist, extreme-left and Green poltical groups who advocated a review of EU-Israel relations and urged the EU to recognize a Palestinian state, he said that in the absence of unanimity within the Foreign Affairs on the issue of annexation, it’s up to individual member states to take such a decision.
During the debate, pro-Israel MEPs denounced the fact that its was initiated by the extreme- left over an issue ‘’that has not happened.’’ Spanish MEP Antonio Lopez-Isturiz from the European People’s Party, who chairs the EU parliament delegation for relations with Israel, slammed the ‘’obsession of the extreme left and Communists about the democracy in Israel.’’ He welcomed the ratification one day earlier in the same parliament of an EU-Israel aviation agreement.
Bert-Jan Ruissen, a Dutch MEP from the Conservative and Reformists Group, denounced the EU’s ‘’unilateral view’’ on the issue. ‘’The EU makes a mistake by looking only at one side. Once again a number of parties attack Israel. The situation is more complex. These territories were occupied by Jordan and taken militarly in 1967 by Israel in a defensive war,’’ he said. ‘’The idea that an eventual annexation is illegal under international law is disputable,’’ he insisted.