Over one thousand EU MPs reject Israel West Bank annexation


More than a thousand parliamentarians from across Europe have signed a joint letter protesting Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The move is part of a growing international opposition to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to begin annexing parts of the West Bank that have Israeli settlements – potentially as early as July 01.

The letter, published on Wednesday and whose signatories include 240 British legislators, raises “serious concerns” about Israel’s plans, and says acquisition of territory by force must have “commensurate consequences.”

The publication of the letter in several newspapers comes a week before the annexation process could begin.

According to a power-sharing deal which led to the formation of the current Israeli government last month, annexation can be put to a vote from July 01.

The project is being led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking to extend Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank containing Jewish settlements.

If passed, the move could incorporate up to 30% of the territory – land claimed by Palestinians for a future independent state of their own.

Israel’s incorporation of the settlements was given the green light under US President Donald Trump’s Vision for Peace – a plan for ending the decades old Israel-Palestinian conflict unveiled in January.

The letter, sent to European foreign ministries, warns that unilateral annexation of West Bank territory could be “fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations”.

It is a sign of growing international pressure over the proposals which stem from President Trump’s plan for the region, says the BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem.

The letter, signed by 1,080 parliamentarians from 25 countries, warns of the “destabilising potential” for the region.

The letter was organised by a former speaker of the Israeli parliament, Avraham Burg, along with three other public figures in Israel among those who have traditionally supported the so-called two-state solution of a Palestinian state in the West Bank alongside Israel.

It says President Trump’s plan promotes “effectively permanent Israeli control over a fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinians with no sovereignty and giving a green light to Israel to unilaterally annex significant parts of the West Bank”.

It warns that allowing annexation to pass “unchallenged” would encourage other states with territorial claims to “disregard basic principles of international law”. It stops short of explicitly calling for sanctions against Israel if the move takes place.

The Palestinians oppose the Trump plan outright and have boycotted diplomatic relations with the US.

Some 430,000 Jews live in over 130 settlements (and scores of smaller “outposts”) built since Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel – and the US under the Trump administration – denies this. (Source: BBC)