On July 7, the Foreign ministers of Germany, France, Egypt, and Jordan held an important discussion on the risks linked to the unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank. Unfortunately, I could not attend as I was traveling in order to deal with other equally important issues. The EU was represented by the Secretary-General of the EEAS and the EU Special Representative for the Middle East.
This meeting was very timely and I fully share the conclusions reached (link is external). Together with my fellow European Ministers, we will spare no diplomatic efforts to help Israel understand the risks of proceeding with the unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank. Europe and Israel are so close geographically, culturally, economically. It is in no one’s interest for this relationship to retract.
Annexation would constitute a violation of international law; it will cause real damage to the prospects for a two-state solution; it would also negatively influence regional stability, our relations with Israel, the relations between Israel and Arab states, and, potentially, the security of Israel.
Any violation of international law, particularly when involving the annexation of territories, also has implications for the whole rules-based international order, affecting other conflict zones.
A risk for the good cooperation between EU and Israel
As someone with a personal connection to the region, I have emphasized, both in my private conversations with Israeli leaders and in public, that annexation would put at risk good cooperation with Israel. This is clearly not what we want. On the contrary, we have an opportunity to reenergize our relations in times that can require that we work even closer together for regional stability in the Middle East. But we cannot and will not recognize changes to the pre-1967 borders that are not agreed by both parties to the conflict.
The EU remains committed to the negotiated two-state solution based on international law and the relevant UN resolutions. It is the only realistic and sustainable way to end this conflict. Just as we have urged Israel to refrain from unilateral steps, we have equally urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. We need to unite our efforts with all partners in the region and beyond that, like us, seek peace and jointly encourage the parties to restart negotiations.
Peace cannot be imposed, it has to be negotiated, however hard this can be. I will continue engaging intensely in support of these efforts and helping mobilize the international community to facilitate a mutually acceptable and sustainable outcome.