A Thousand European Lawmakers Sign Anti-Annexation Letter

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) -
United Nations headquarters in New York.

Any Israeli move to annex parts of Yehuda and Shomron would be “fatal” for Middle East peace hopes and must be prevented, if necessary with countermeasures, more than 1,000 lawmakers from across Europe said in a letter to European governments.

The June 23 letter, signed by 1,080 lawmakers from 25 countries and made public on Wednesday, raises parliamentary concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump’s Israeli–Palestinian peace plan. The signatories said annexation would break international law.

“Such a move (annexation) will be fatal to the prospects of Israeli–Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations,” the letter said.

“Acquisition of territory by force has no place in 2020,” said the lawmakers, who included members of parliament from Hungary and the Czech Republic, two countries sympathetic to Israel and to Trump’s Jan. 28 peace plan.

The United Nations Security Council has said settlements violate international law. Israel disputes this, citing biblical, historical and political connections to the land.

The European lawmakers called for “commensurate consequences” if Israel, which has more than 400,000 residents in the region, went ahead with annexation — a reference to possible economic, trade or other sanctions.

“Failure to adequately respond would encourage other states with territorial claims,” the letter said.

Netanyahu has dismissed criticism of the annexation plans. He says that extending Israeli sovereignty will bring peace closer once critics of the move recognize that hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the area will remain under any future deal.

Internal documents and Reuters interviews with more than two dozen diplomats and officials showed there is no clear EU strategy on how to stop Israel’s plan or how to respond in a meaningful way if annexation goes ahead.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel on Wednesday to abandon its plans for annexation.

“If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations,” Guterres told the U.N. Security Council.

“I call on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plans,” he said.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told a PLO-led protest the extent of annexation is not the issue.

“They say that ‘if we just take a little land, that doesn’t matter.’ No, it matters! Annexation is annexation, no matter its size. Small or large, it is a setback for the Palestinian people,” Shtayyeh said in the Jordan Valley town of Faisal.

“The Jordan Valley is like Jerusalem,” Shtayyeh said, in terms of its inviolability.

At a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council, every member state but the U.S. took a turn denouncing annexation.

“Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank will destroy hopes for peace and will constitute a threat to security in the region and the world,” declared Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Abu al-Ghaith.