International pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to abandon his plans for annexation of parts of Yehudah and Shomron ramped up on Tuesday as several European leaders sent letters to him imploring a change of course.
French President Emmanuel Macron told PM Netanyahu in his missive: “I ask you, in friendly spirit, that your new government not take unilateral action. Such a move will destabilize the Middle East. Only dialogue with the Palestinians and a just and balanced solution will provide Israel with peace, security and stability,” Channel 13 quoted him as saying.
France recently suggested the possibility of unspecified reprisals if Israel should proceed with annexations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been notably friendly to Israel, was reported to express similar sentiments.
The leaders of Spain and Italy urged Israel to act only within the framework of international law, which they say disallows any unilateral action in the region.
Meanwhile, in an odd counterpoint on Tuesday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, reportedly had his first conversation with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, in which the two did not touch on the vexed issue of annexation, at least not for public consumption.
This was surprising, since Borrell has in recent weeks taken it upon himself to denounce the annexation plans even without the formal backing of the E.U. The Israeli Foreign Ministry in turn denounced Borrell for “megaphone diplomacy.”
A readout of the conversation provided by Borrell’s office quotes him stressing the EU’s wish to “continue working with the new Israeli government in a constructive and comprehensive way, in the spirit of the longstanding friendship that binds the EU and Israel together.”
The two had “an honest and open exchange of views on a broad range of bilateral and regional issues,” the readout said, without elaborating.
The EU’s foreign policy czar “underlined the EU’s unequivocal commitment to the security of the State of Israel, which is not negotiable for the EU” and reaffirmed the union’s intention to “address jointly issues of mutual interest and concern and to work with Israel to promote global peace and security and to contribute to building trust, in particular in the region and the immediate neighborhood.”