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European ambassadors warn Israel against annexing West Bank

A Palestinian protester yells at an Israeli soldier as he confronts him atop an Israeli army vehicle during a protest against Israeli forces conducting an exercise in a residential area, near the Palestinian village of Naqura, northwest of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, on September 4, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The ambassadors of 11 European countries have warned the Israeli regime that its planned annexation of the occupied West Bank is a “clear violation of international law” that would have “grave consequences” for the regime.

Envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, and Finland as well as, notably, the European Union (EU) presented their formal objection to the plan on Thursday, a Channel 13 report said, according to the Times of Israel.

The protest by the European envoys came during a video conference with the Israeli foreign ministry’s deputy for Europe Anna Azari.

“We are very concerned about the clause in the coalition agreement that paves the way for annexing parts of the West Bank. The annexation of any part of the West Bank constitutes a clear violation of international law,” the ambassadors said.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Benny Gantz, agreed to start plans for annexing parts of the occupied West Bank on July 1 as part of a deal setting up a future coalition cabinet.

Until then, elections after elections had left the respective parties of both Netanyahu and Gantz short of a solid parliamentary majority to choose a new prime minister, and no coalition talks had also failed.

“Such unilateral steps will harm efforts to renew the peace process and will have grave consequences for regional stability and for Israel’s standing in the international arena,” the European diplomats said.

Many world leaders, governments, and international organizations have warned Israel against the measure.

Israel was encouraged to annex settlements and other strategic territory in the occupied West Bank by United States President Donald Trump under a plan that he unveiled in January. The initiative also designated Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital,” among other privileges granted to Israel.

While the plan was supposed to be a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, no Palestinian official had been involved in preparing it, and all Palestinian factions rejected the plan soon after it was announced.

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