More world leaders take stand against Netanyahu’s annexation plan

Jordan's King Abdullah and leaders of the European Union are now focusing their anti-annexation efforts on the American administration.

al-monitor Nongovernmental organization workers speak to European Union heads of mission and other local envoys about the impact of Israeli annexation during a diplomatic tour of Palestinian villages near al-Mughayyir in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, June 11, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/Rami Ayyub.

Jun 17, 2020

Jordan's King Abdullah warned on June 16 that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation plan would threaten regional stability. The king addressed the issue at a video conference he held with American senators. According to a statement issued by the royal palace, Abdullah said, “Any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable and undermines the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the region."

The Jordanian king had warned Israel already on May 16 of a "massive conflict" if it proceeds with plans to annex West Bank lands. His renewed appeal yesterday seems to be part of a global diplomatic blitz to persuade Netanyahu to retract. According to his unity deal with the Blue and White party, Netanyahu can bring up his annexation plan for a vote as early as July 1, and he has stated that he intends to present his initiative to the Knesset on that date.

The European Union has also upped its efforts. And like Abdullah, they are also focusing on the American administration. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Israel on June 10. While in Israel, Maas refrained from threatening sanctions. But visiting Amman right after Jerusalem, Maas was more direct. In a joint statement with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi, Maas said, “An annexation would be contrary to international law" and "it is now a matter of priority to prevent it.”

Less than a week later, on June 16, EU foreign ministers held a videoconference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging Washington to join efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians and not to support annexation. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell acknowledged at the meeting that President Donald Trump’s peace plan has created a certain momentum, but added, "We were also clear about the consequences of a possible annexation for the prospects of a two-state solution, but also for regional stability."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also joined the international blitz, stating yesterday that Israeli annexation "would amount to breach of international law." Those in Jerusalem who hoped that a post-Brexit UK would adopt a policy on Israel different from that of the EU were proven wrong. Johnson stressed that his government strongly objects to annexation and will work to make the case for the two-state solution.

But alongside international efforts to stop Netanyahu’s annexation train, there are some exceptions. Addressing the American Jewish Committee’s online conference, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash noted that the decades-long Arab boycott of Israel has not yielded the desired results. While reiterating his country’s objection to Israel’s planned annexation, Gargash underlined the UAE’s policy of “decoupling the political from the non-political" and hinted that his country will not cease all contacts with Israel if annexation goes forward.

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