The European Union on Tuesday warned Israel that annexing the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim would damage the Jewish state's diplomatic ties with the union.“It would be seen very negatively by the EU. It would have a strong detrimental impact on our relations,” said Mark Gallagher, who is the Charge D’Affaires for the EU embassy in Israel. Gallagher made the remark at the conference “The Arab Peace Initiative at 15-years,” which was held at the Hebrew University.“It is no secret that those relations have come under a certain amount of strain due to the same settlement expansions and the Regulation Law,” he said, referencing the new Settlements Law the Knesset passed in February, which retroactively legalizes settler homes on privately-owned Palestinian property and offers to compensate the Palestinian landowners.
“We do not want to see unilateral moves taken now at this very sensitive time,” Gallagher said.He spoke in response to a question by The Jerusalem Post about a legislative drive by right-wing politicians to annex Ma’aleh Adumim. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to sway the politicians to delay the legislation until the Knesset’s next session in May.UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov warned that an annexation of Ma'aleh Adumim would spark renewed Palestinian violence against Israelis. “What is most dangerous is not just the fact that this will break international law and Israel will be in violation of a number of its obligations,” Mladenov said. “Such a step is likely to spiral violence and I do not think that is what anyone wants,” Mladenov said.“The situation among Palestinians is very tense. People are angry. As much as Israelis are resigned to the fact that peace efforts have not brought peace, Palestinians are angry that peace efforts have not brought about statehood,” he stressed.While these remarks came as warnings, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at The Meir Dagan Conference in the Netanya Academic Conference said he believed that settlement activity had already harmed Israeli-EU ties.He warned the EU would move against Israel later in the year after number of major leadership elections on that continent are over.“After this long election period — I understand from talks with friends in Europe and Brussels — we can expect a [diplomatic] assault by the EU against Israel.“You don’t need any [special] information to know this. You just have to read the official statements and all the debates in the EU Parliament, that you can find on the foreign ministry websites,” he said. Liberman himself lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim and supports settlement activity.However, he has warned against the drive by right-wing politicians to annex Area C of the West Bank, starting with Ma’aleh Adumim. He told the audience at the Meir Dagan Conference that he has received phone calls from Washington anting to know about this legislation and he told them that there was zero chance it would pass the Knesset.At Hebrew University MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said that annexation of Area C of the West Bank was a defects-way of recognizing the Palestinian right of return.Palestinians living in the annexed territory would have be given citizenship, whereas in a negotiated two-state solution those same Palestinians would become citizens of a Palestinian state, she said.
Maaleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel on why Maaleh Adumim should be annexed as part of Israel , March 1, 2017 (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)