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EU to pressure Israel to ditch West Bank annexation plans

Josep Borrell says the EU will use “all diplomatic capacities” to prevent Israeli annexation [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2020

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The European Union will begin a diplomatic push to try to dissuade the new Israeli governments from annexing large areas of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The EU will make a diplomatic push to try to stop Israel going ahead with a plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, the bloc's foreign policy chief said on Friday.

Josep Borrell said the bloc would use "all our diplomatic capacities" to try to dissuade Israel's incoming government from going ahead with the move, approved under US President Donald Trump's widely condemned ‘Deal of the Century’ Middle East peace plan.

While EU countries are alarmed at the prospect of annexations, which they say would violate international law and harm the chances of peace, they are divided about what action to take against Israel.

"What everybody agreed is we have to increase our efforts and our reachout to all relevant actors in the Middle East...," Borrell said after the talks.

"We are ready to do that and we will do that in the next days using all our diplomatic capacities in order to prevent any kind of unilateral action."

The push will involve talking to Washington and Arab countries as well as Israel and the Palestinians, Borrell said.

Read more: Remembering 72 years of the Nakba in the shadow of annexation

Israel's long-awaited unity government will be sworn in on Sunday - after three inconclusive elections in less than a year and a power-sharing agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former rival Benny Gantz.

Some EU countries have pushed for the bloc to take a hard line against Israel, with Luxembourg's veteran foreign minister Jean Asselborn in particular calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

But others have urged dialogue with Israel, which is seen as an important EU partner in the Middle East.

"We are in a dialogue with the responsible parties, including in Israel," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

"We have always made it clear... that we are committed to the goal of a negotiated two-state solution, and that we believe that annexations are not compatible with international law."

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