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Macron demands Netanyahu scrap West Bank annexation plans as 'unlawful'

French President Macron urged Israeli PM Netanyahu to refrain from annexing Palestinian territory [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 July, 2020

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French President Emmanuel Macron told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that annexing the West Bank would 'contravene international law'.

French President Emmanuel Macron asked Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank and elsewhere during a telephone call between the two leaders, the French president's office said on Friday.

Macron "emphasised that such a move would contravene international law and jeopardise the possibility of a two-state solution as the basis of a fair and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians", his office said in a statement after the call on Thursday.

It was the latest move by European leaders pressing Netanyahu to drop plans to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley.

The controversial move was endorsed in a Middle East plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump in January.

But Netanyahu's office said Friday that in the talks with Macron he "clarified that Israel is acting according to international law".

"Israel is prepared to hold peace negotiations on the basis of President Trump's plan," it said, reiterating a claim that "it is the Palestinian refusal to conduct negotiations based on this plan and on the plans of the past that is preventing progress".

Israel's government had set July 1 as the date when it could begin taking over the Palestinian areas, where the population of Israeli settlers has grown since the 1967 Six-Day War.

The foreign ministries of France and Germany, along with those of Egypt and Jordan - the only Arab states to have peace deals with Israel - warned this week that any annexation could have "consequences" for relations.

Read more: Interview with former Obama adviser: 'Formal annexation won't change anything on the ground'

But Macron told Netanyahu that France remained committed to Israel's security and "expressed his attachment to the friendship and confidence that links France and Israel", his office said.

This story was updated to include Prime Minister Netanyahu's comments.

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