EU ‘to rally against Israel’s West Bank annexation proposal’

EU Foreign Ministers

Brussels, May 16 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has indicated that it will try to stop Israel’s proposed annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

Speaking after a virtual meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on Friday, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said: “We must work to discourage any possible initiative toward annexation,” the BBC reported

He said the EU looked forward to working with Israel’s new government, but added: “Unilateral action from either side should be avoided and for sure international law should be upheld.”

Some EU states were said to be calling for a tougher line on the issue, including possible sanctions, but others have urged caution.

“What everybody agreed is we have to increase our efforts and our reach-out to all relevant actors in the Middle East,” Borrell said.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement with Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White Party, to form a unity government.

They both agreed to impose Israeli sovereignty on the territories, which they called as “part of the historic lands of Israel” as of July 1.

On May 7, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that American President Donald Trump’s administration supports Israel’s application of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians – who claim all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – have rejected the idea.

Israel has occupied the territories since the 1967 Middle East war, said the BBC reported.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

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