Seven European nations warn annexation will harm their ties with Israel

French Ambassador to the UN in in New York Nicolas de Rivière said that "any annexation" would "constitute a clear violation of international law."

European leaders virtually meet on June 24, 2020 (photo credit: Courtesy)
European leaders virtually meet on June 24, 2020
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Seven European nations warned on Wednesday that any Israeli annexation steps would harm their ties with the Jewish state.
“Following our obligations and responsibilities under international law, annexation would have consequences for our close relationship with Israel and will not be recognized by us,” the French Ambassador to the UN in in New York Nicolas de Rivière said in a statement he read out in the name of the seven countries.
This includes the five European countries who are now members of the UNSC; France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Estonia. Also signed onto he statement were the new incoming European UNSC members; Ireland and Norway.
He spoke warmly of the ties between those countries and Israel at present.
“We all currently enjoy a close relationship with Israel and wish to continue working with Israel in a constructive and comprehensive way in the spirit of the long following friendship that binds us,” de Rivière said.
But he said that those ties would not continue if annexation moved forward.
“If any annexation of the West Bank, however big or small is implemented, it would constitute a clear violation of international law, including the UN charter as well as the UN Security Council resolutions,” de Rivière said.
Annexation would weaken peace efforts and harm the security of region, including that of Israel, he added.
The French Ambassador underscored that the seven countries would not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders that were not accepted by both Israelis and Palestinians.
The seven spoke out after the monthly UNSC meeting on the Middle East, which focused almost exclusively on pending Israeli annexation plans within the contours of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
To underscore the seriousness of any annexation steps, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit made rare appearance at the meeting to dismiss the Trump peace plan and call for a revival of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the pre-1967 borders. The Trump plan for a two-state solution makes no reference to those borders.
Aboul Gheit warned that annexation would lead to a one state reality for Israelis and Palestinians.
“A new dark reality will set in vis a vis this conflict and the region at large,” he said.
Annexation has “the potential of igniting a religious war in and beyond our region,” Aboul Gheit said.
During the debate all 14 of the 15-member UNSC affirmed the need for a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines, with some members warning that the integrity and viability of the UNSC was at stake if annexation went unchallenged.
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft defended her country’s peace plan, noting that that past attempts to resolve the conflict within the parameters of the pre-1967 lines had failed, More to the point, she said, failure to enact change was harming both Israelis and Palestinians.
“The US cares deeply about the people in the region and we believe that the status quo hurts both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that no one benefits from the existing situation – a perpetual limbo of suffering, lost opportunities, reliance on foreign assistance, and repeated cycles of violence, war, and destruction,” Craft said.
Trump’s plan allows provides Palestinians with a viable path to statehood and a peace agreement with Israel, Craft explained.
“I think we can all agree that past efforts have not brought the sides closer to peace,” Craft said.
“I understand that many of you have concerns with this issue of the potential extension of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank,” said Craft. But if there were concerns, then those should be addressed to both parties, she said.
“We ask that you also hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for acts they are responsible for,” Craft said as she urged UNSC members to move away from old talking points.
She appealed to the Palestinians to work with the US on a the peace plan, noting that its terms could be adjusted.
“As we’ve said before, our plan is not a “take it or leave it.” It is not set in stone. It is an opening offer. It is the beginning of a conversation – not the end of one,” Craft said.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki told the UNSC that it stood at a crossroad and its choice with respect to halting Israeli actions, would determine the course of history and the fate of nations.
“Israel is drunk on power, impelled by infinite impunity,” said Maliki, who like Danon was a special guest at the meeting.
Israel has combined colonialism and apartheid without believing that it will suffer the same fate as other regimes that followed these same principles, Maliki said.
“Israel judges but cannot be judged. The only true bias toward Israel is the one shielding it from accountability,” Maliki said.
“Israel is testing the resolve of the international community thinking its colonial appetite will prevail over the international collective will to advance regional peace and security and to preserve the rule based multilateral order. We must prove it wrong.”
The council must let Israel know that annexation will have immediate consequences by imposing sanctions, he said.
Annexation is the “ultimate breach of the UN Charter and cannot go unchallenged,” he added.