Photo Credit: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia
European Union flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels

The European Union “strongly” urges Israel to refrain from any unilateral diplomatic moves in Judea and Samaria that would lead to their annexation and “would be contrary to International Law,” the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell stated, as the EU discussed possible diplomatic action against Israel.

In a statement issued on Monday on the formation of the new government, Borrell noted that Israel is “a key partner” for the EU and that he looks forward to working with Israel “in a constructive and comprehensive way, in the spirit of the longstanding friendship that binds us to Israel.”

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Regarding the peace process, the top diplomat said that the EU is willing to “support and facilitate resumed meaningful negotiations between the two parties and achieve a just and lasting peace.”

However, he said that “international law is a fundamental pillar of the international rules-based order, and therefore, the EU and its Member States will not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders unless agreed by Israelis and Palestinians. The two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the future capital for both States, is the only way to ensure sustainable peace and stability in the region.”

He noted “with grave concern” the coalition agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz calling for the declaration of sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria starting in July, as stipulated by the US’ Deal of the Century peace plan.

The EU “strongly” urges Israel to “refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to International Law,” Borrell concluded.

The Foreign Affairs Ministers of the 27-member bloc met on Friday to discuss possible EU action against Israel if it moves forward with its declaration of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

“Unilateral actions from either side should be avoided and, for sure, international law should be upheld,” Borrell stated after the meeting.

“We must work to discourage any possible initiative towards annexation. This will require reaching out, by all of us, to Israel, US, Palestinians and Arab partners, using all channels that the EU and the Member States have. Our discussions on this complex topic will continue, we will not advance events,” he added.

Borrell and other countries are reportedly advocating sanctions against Israel, while other countries closer to Israel oppose such moves. The EU needs to vote unanimously on such severe action.

The spat between Israel and parts of the EU has been developing in the past weeks, and last month Israel condemned Borrell after he threatened Israel with diplomatic action following the new government’s announced wish to declare sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria.

Then Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated that it “notes with regret” that Borrell, “who strives to lead the foreign relations of the European Union,” has “chosen to welcome the new government of a central partner of the European Union in such a manner, and that he opts to see the relations between Israel and the European Union solely through the narrow prisms of the Coronavirus and of the “status of the territories.”

“Considering the depth of our relations, and in light of the fact that, once again, a similar proposed statement did not receive the support of the EU member states only yesterday, we wonder what policy the distinguished gentleman is vying to represent,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Israel Slams EU’s Counter-Productive ‘Megaphone Diplomacy’

The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a sharp rejection of a statement by the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell “strongly” urging Israel to refrain from unilateral diplomatic moves in Judea and Samaria, calling it “megaphone diplomacy” that “is not a substitute for intimate diplomatic dialogue.”

In response to the EU, Israel stated that it shares with the EU “history, values, interests, opportunities and both face threats,” and therefore, “it is regrettable that once again, the security of Israel, a key partner of the EU, and the threats that Israel face, were not mentioned at all [in Boreell’s statement] and were not given the centrality that they should be in such a message.”

Foreign Minister Ashkenazi who took office yesterday, stated that Israel expects “a significant dialogue with our allies in Europe, and as such, “this ‘megaphone diplomacy’ is not a substitute for intimate diplomatic dialogue and will not advance the role the EU is seeking to fulfill.”

Ashkenazi stated Monday that President Donald Trump’s peace plan is “a significant milestone” and will be promoted “responsibility” and in coordination with the US while “maintaining Israel’s peace accords and strategic interests.”

The Deal of the Century peace plan, officially titled “Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future,” calls for the Israeli annexation of some 30% of the territory in Judea and Samaria already under its control, with the remaining 70% becoming a Palestinian state.

While the coalition agreement stipulates that Israel can commence with moves to declare sovereignty in Judea and Samaria in July, Blue and White, of which Ashkenazi is a member, are hesitant about the entire process, the US appears to be shying away from its initial enthusiasm, Jordan has threatened Israel with severe action if it annexes the Jordan Valley, and the right in Israel is fearful of the emerging Palestinian state.

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