Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

EU peace plan at risk over Israeli annexations

  • Israeli forces have occupied the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 (Photo: breakingthesilence.org.il)

The EU-backed idea of a Palestinian state will become impossible if Israel fulfills its latest boast to annex parts of the West Bank, Arab countries have warned.

"The league regards these [Israeli] statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations," Arab League foreign ministers said after an emergency meeting in Cairo on Tuesday (10 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The boast, issued by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, earlier the same day, was a "dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression", the league added.

Such rhetoric alone could "push the whole region towards violence", Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, warned.

And if Netanyahu actually did it, he would have "succeeded in burying any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis", Saeb Erekat, Palestine's chief peace negotiator, said.

"The ... international community must stop such madness," he said.

The EU and the UN support the creation of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel as the only way to end the 100-year old conflict.

The EU foreign service had not reacted to Netanyahu's pledge by Wednesday morning, but some European opinion makers voiced dismay.

"Putin just takes over Crimea in clear violation of international law. And now Netanyahu announces his intention to do the same with the West Bank," former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister Carl Bildt said, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin's dismemberment of Ukraine five years ago.

"The jungle is approaching. It's a new age of disorder," Bildt said.

Unilateral Israeli annexation would be "devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace, and the very essence of a two-state solution," a UN spokeswoman also said.

Netanyahu made his promise in a speech on Israeli TV.

"Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea," he said.

The territories account for some 30 percent of the West Bank and are home to tens of thousands of Palestinians.

The Israeli leader spoke ahead of snap elections next Tuesday in what his opponents called an "electoral trick" to win right-wing votes.

"It's not even a particularly successful trick, because the lie is so transparent," a senior opposition MP, Yair Lapid, said.

Netanyahu made a similar promise in April and never followed through, Lapid noted. "[He] doesn't want to annex territories, he wants to annex votes," the opposition co-leader said.

But this time was different due to US president Donald Trump's green light, Netanyahu insisted.

Thanks to "my personal relationship with president Trump, I will be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of our homeland," he said.

"We haven't had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we'll have another opportunity in the next 50 years," he added, referring to a 1967 war in which Israeli forces conquered the West Bank and Gaza.

He promised to do it "immediately after the election".

But he also said he would wait for Trump to first unveil his new peace plan for the Middle East, in a move expected in autumn.

"There is no change in United States policy at this time," a US official told press on Tuesday.

"We will release our Vision for Peace after the Israeli election and work to determine the best path forward to bring long-sought security, opportunity, and stability to the region," the official said.

The EU has been kept largely in the dark on Trump's thinking.

But he earlier endorsed Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria in a potential sign of things to come.

He also moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Israel conquered in 1967, in symbolic support of Israel's unilateral claim to the Holy City.

Millions needed by mid-June to feed war-stricken Gazans

The UN is looking for another $60m by mid-June to stave off hunger in the Gaza Strip in the hopes of averting another flashpoint. The demand follows a two-day war earlier this month that killed 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.

Opinion

Revival of hope for EU-Israel ties after elections?

Detaching the Netanyahu-era alliance with Hungary's Viktor Orban and other illiberal regimes in Europe will serve both EU unity and Israel's integrity. Scraping the deal with Poland to rewrite the history of Second World War falls under the same category.

Opinion

Israeli labelling ruling lets consumers make choice

Beyond the Israel-specific dimension of this decision, the EU court places ethics back at the heart of European consumer choices and reminds us that our daily, mundane purchases may have considerable and unforeseen geopolitical implications, particularly as regards occupied territories.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary, Poland block EU conclusions on rule of law
  2. France: wide EU backing for enlargement change
  3. EU Council calls for policy action to protect marine life
  4. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
  5. Suspected 'middleman' in Caruana Galizia case arrested
  6. European populists more favourable to Russia
  7. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  8. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us