UK calls for dialogue over Israeli annexation plan

Palestinians walk past a sign with information on Area A in the Jordan Valley, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, June 13, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 15 July 2020

UK calls for dialogue over Israeli annexation plan

  • On July 1, Johnson published an article in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper urging Tel Aviv not to push ahead
  • 11 European foreign ministers have written to the EU to ask for possible actions that the bloc could take to prevent the proposed annexation

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for dialogue to resolve tensions over the proposed annexation by Israel of parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Johnson spoke with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, over concerns about Israel’s plan, a week after discussing it with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Johnson “urged President Abbas to engage in negotiations and offered the UK’s support to foster dialogue,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “The leaders agreed to continue to work together on this issue and others.”

On July 1, Johnson published an article in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper urging Tel Aviv not to push ahead. 

“It is with sadness that I have followed the proposals to annex Palestinian territory. As a life-long friend, admirer and supporter of Israel, I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, 11 European foreign ministers have written to the EU to ask for possible actions that the bloc could take to prevent the proposed annexation.

Ministers from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Finland asked EU Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell to set out the “legal consequences” of the move, following an initial request made at a meeting in May.

The letter suggested that doing so could help members “deter annexation” by laying out to Israel the consequences of such action.

“The possible annexation by Israel of parts of the occupied Palestinian territory remains a matter of grave concern for the EU and its member states,” it said.

“We understand that this is a sensitive issue and timing is important, but time is also short. We are concerned that the window to deter annexation is fast closing.”

Moves to formally incorporate what could amount to up to 30 percent of the West Bank into Israel began with the signing of a coalition government agreement earlier this year, after Netanyahu made the issue a central pledge in his re-election campaign.

The EU relies on consensus among members to take steps in any direction on issues of foreign policy, but though some states have called for sanctions against Israel, others oppose punitive measures.

In June, over 1,000 European politicians signed a letter that condemned Israel, saying: “Acquisition of territory by force has no place in 2020 and must have commensurate consequences.”

A similar letter signed by 47 UN experts called Israel’s plan “a vision of a 21st-century apartheid.”

In February, Borrell said Israeli annexation would not be allowed to go “unchallenged.” However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said annexation is a matter for Tel Aviv.


France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

Updated 25 min 10 sec ago

France’s Macron to host donor conference for blast-stricken Lebanon

  • Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars
  • Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will host US President Donald Trump and other political leaders on Sunday for a UN-endorsed donors’ conference by video to raise emergency relief for Lebanon following this week’s massive explosion in Beirut.
Lebanon was already mired in deep political and economic crisis when the blast ripped through its main port on Tuesday, killing 158 people, injuring more than 6,000 and destroying a swathe of the city.
Rebuilding Beirut could run into the billions of dollars. Economists forecast the blast could wipe up to 25% off of the country’s GDP.
Many Lebanese are angry at the government’s response and say the disaster highlighted the negligence of a corrupt political elite. Protesters stormed government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday.
Macron visited Beirut on Thursday, the first world leader to do so after the explosion, and promised the Lebanese people humanitarian aid would come but that profound political reform was needed to resolve the country’s problems and secure longer term support.
“I guarantee you, this (reconstruction) aid will not go to corrupt hands,” Macron told the throngs who greeted him.
There has been an outpouring of sympathy for Lebanon from around the world this week and many countries have sent immediate humanitarian support such as a medical supplies, but there has been an absence of aid commitments so far.
Trump will participate in the video-link conference.
“Everyone wants to help!” he tweeted.
Germany will commit an additional 10 million euros ($11.79 million) in emergency aid on top of the rescue contributions already underway, its foreign minister said.
A Macron aide declined on Saturday to set a target for the conference. Emergency aid was needed for reconstruction, food aid, medical equipment and schools and hospitals, the official said.
Representatives of Britain, the European Union, China, Russia, Egypt and Jordan are expected to join the conference, hosted by Macron from his summer retreat on the French Riviera. Israel and Iran will not take part, the Elysee Palace official said. ($1 = 0.8485 euros)