Israel’s new emergency government faced a mounting challenge from Europe on Thursday as France joined in expressing opposition to plans for annexation of parts of Yehuda and Shomron.
French ambassador to the U.N. Nicolas de Rivière told the Security Council that “such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel.”
His comment came just a few hours after the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made a similar statement, saying the EU “takes note” of the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, which provides for promoting annexation in the coming months, and warned they will be “closely monitoring” developments.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry rebuffed Borrell, and pointed out that 8 of the 27 EU member countries did not support the statement, which an Israeli diplomatic source said was more than were against any previous EU statement on Israel, according to The Jerusalem Post. The statement was his own, not an official one of EU policy.
A source in one of the EU states opposing the statement was quoted as saying they had no advance notice of the release of Borrell’s position, and had been expecting further debate.
Among the reservations among diplomats was the timing; the new government has not been formally installed yet, so annexation was still a proposal not a policy. Furthermore, it might unnecessarily complicate relations with Benny Gantz, thought more likely to consult with the EU, when he takes over as prime minister in 18 months.