European Union (EU) foreign ministers discussed on Friday via video conference the action that the union could take if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushes forward with plans to annex the West Bank in the upcoming months.
The meeting was decided upon the appointment of the new Israeli government headed by Netanyahu, which was scheduled for Thursday evening, but disputes over the distribution of ministerial portfolios within the Likud Party led to the postponement of the inauguration ceremony until next Sunday.
According to the alliance agreement between Netanyahu and leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, the new government could submit a proposal to annex parts of the occupied West Bank before 1 July.
The EU foreign ministers are seeking to agree on a position if Israel takes this step.
The 27-state union condemned the Israeli settlement expansion, warned of annexation plans and is seriously considering proposing measures regarding mechanisms to respond to the Israeli move of annexation in case it is announced.
The EU foreign policy coordinator, Josep Borrell, confirmed that this meeting is very important to understand the positions of all 27 countries regarding: “The respect for international law, the way we can respond to this annexation in case it is announced and the clarification of the EU’s position.”
The EU always renews its commitment to a two-state solution based on the borders of 4 June, 1967, and the necessity of establishing an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, living in peace and security alongside Israel, as well as its firm and rejecting stance against settlement, and its consideration that all settlements are illegal.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Borrell to place Europe’s economic weight behind its political stance rejecting the Israeli threat to annex parts of the West Bank.
“The political alliance formed in Israel is a pro-annexation alliance and not an alliance of peace. The dialogues between the parties inside it are about annexing settlements or annexing the Jordan Valley,” expressed Shtayyeh in a phone call to Borrell a few days ago.
He continued: “The world should not allow Israel to continue breaking the law without accountability. The time has come to move from positions to actions, to turn the support for the two-state solution into recognition of the state of Palestine, to put an end to the occupying state’s violations and impose punitive measures on it.”
Shtayyeh called on Europe to adopt the Palestinian proposal to hold an international peace conference for Palestine, in which all international powers participate and in which Europe plays the mediating role after the US lost its credibility in mediating the political process by siding with its Israeli ally.