ACHRS Statement: EU Attempts to Deter Israel’s Planned West Bank Annexation

After failed attempts at persuading Israel to reconsider its West Bank annexation, the European Union (EU) has been working on measures to deter unilateral action by the Jewish state. In a letter to the EU Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell on July 14, 2020, eleven European foreign ministers underscored the need to stop Israel’s impending annexation of the West Bank, writing that Israel’s plan violated international law. The ministers from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, and Malta asked Borrell to supervise the creation of a paper that analysed the political and legal consequences of the annexation and that listed potential options to help stop its execution.[1] European foreign ministers had initially discussed methods of opposing Israel’s scheme in a video conference on May 15, 2020.

Despite the vague positions of Hungary and the Czech Republic on the annexation, the EU remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regards any Israeli unilateral measure as an obstacle to the resolution reached by both parties during the Oslo Peace Process. Following the US announcement of the Trump Peace Plan on January 28, 2020, the union reiterated its support for an independent Palestinian state in accordance with 1967 borders and stressed that Israeli attempts at annexing West Bank territories would “not passed unchallenged.”[3] On June 18, 2020, EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell declared that Israel’s annexation would have “significant consequences for the country’s relationship with Europe.”[4] Furthermore, on June 24, 2020, a week before the annexation start date, 1000 EU parliamentarians wrote a letter condemning Israel’s annexation plans and expressing their worry about “the precedent [the] move would set for international relations at large.”[5] Analysts believe that Israel’s West Bank annexation could harm the country’s trade and research ties with Europe: the EU remains one of Israel’s vital trading partners and has provided the country with more than 1 billion dollars in research funding as part of the EU Horizon 2020 program.[6] The EU is yet to agree on measures to prevent Israel’s annexation.

The ACHRS commends the European Union’s commitment to a two-state solution and its firm stance on Israel’s continued violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. The ACHRS maintains that Palestinians have the right to negotiate their own future, and that any unilateral Israeli action infringes upon the Palestinian vision of an independent, sovereign state.

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