EU condemnation not enough to stop Israeli annexation drive
Statement by MEPs Idoia Villanueva (Podemos, Spain) and Manu Pineda (Izquierda Unida, Spain), GUE/NGL co-coordinators in the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET).
The newly-formed coalition government in Israel, agreed following three consecutive general elections, has designated the 1st of July as the start date of the process for formal annexation of large swathes of the Palestinian West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defence Benny Grantz made annexation one of their key promises during the electoral campaign after gaining political support from the Trump administration through the “Peace to Prosperity” plan in January 2020. Nevertheless, the so-called “Deal Of The Century” is a fraud as it is not a deal but an imposition. The Palestinians have rejected it and the Palestinian authorities were not even consulted. The plan consists of intensifying and giving legal cover to the apartheid system that Israel has practised over the past decades. Annexation is illegal and undermines international law as it breaks with the international consensus. The plan proposed by President Trump seeks to hand Israel complete control over the city of Jerusalem, de-facto legalise illegal settlements in the West Bank and annex the Jordan Valley.
If this plan goes ahead, it will have unpredictable consequences and would further aggravate the delicate situation of the Palestinians, who were expelled from their lands in 1948 and have lived under occupation since 1967, being the target of particularly intense colonisation since the 90s. Today, there are more than 600,000 settlers in the occupied West Bank while the population of Gaza is collectively punished with a blockade that has lasted for 14 years. Israel has imposed on the Palestinians an apartheid system based on domination, military laws and a system of permits, the appropriation of natural resources like water, impunity for daily settler violence and the assassination of peaceful protesters in Gaza, and mass imprisonment, especially of children.
The alliance between Netanyahu, Gantz and Trump advances the policy of imposition being promoted by the American administration and the destruction of both the multilateral system and international law. In Palestine, this became clear with the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the withdrawal of the US membership from UNESCO; and Trump’s withdrawal from other international organisations such as the UN Human Rights Council and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
It is time for the European Union to act. There is no time to lose. The statement that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell issued saying that “we strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and that would be, as such, contrary to international law” is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. The EU must move from issuing press statements to taking concrete actions by suspending its Association Agreement with Israel on grounds of breach of Article 2, which demands the respect for human rights. There are other actions that the EU can take before the annexation is complete, such as the imposition of a ban on imports from illegal Israeli settlements or an end to arms trade with Israel. The EU should further suspend Israel’s participation in programmes financed by the EU such as Erasmus+ or Horizon.
Mr. Borrell must take effective measures to enforce United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, which states that Israeli settlements “have no legal validity” and calls them a “flagrant violation” of international law, demanding that Israel stop such activities and scrupulously comply with legal obligations and responsibilities incumbent upon it as the “Occupying Power” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Today, the European Union is the only international actor that can force upon genuine negotiations between the parties involved. For there to be genuine conditions of equality, the EU must recognise the State of Palestine – with its capital in Jerusalem – and ask the same from member states.
Finally, the EU should not exclude any type of measure in the event of annexation. As one of the main proponents of the two-state solution, it is the responsibility of the European institutions to safeguard it. If the Netanyahu-Gantz government’s plan goes ahead, the achievement of this goal will become impossible. For all these reasons, GUE/NGL urges High Representative Borrell to use all the tools available to European foreign policy to stop this attack.