France warns Netanyahu-Gantz government against West Bank annexation

France warns Netanyahu-Gantz government against West Bank annexation
French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Rivière's said Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank 'would not pass unchallenged'.
2 min read
24 April, 2020
Annexation could prove to be the death knell for the two-state solution [AFP/Getty]
France has threatened to reexamine its relationship with Israel should the incoming Israeli government annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank, French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Rivière's told the Security Council on Thursday.

Annexation "would constitute a blatant violation of international law, which strictly prohibits the acquisition by force of occupied territories", De Rivière said in comments cited by The Jerusalem Post.

"Such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel," he added.

France's comments at the UN came hours after the European Union on Thursday issued a warning against West Bank annexation, saying that such a move "would constitute a serious violation of international law". 

The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the 27-member bloc does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian territory and that it will "continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly".

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz signed a coalition agreement that includes a clause to advance plans to annex parts of the West Bank, including Israeli settlements, starting on July 1.

Netanyahu's pro-settler base is eager to move forward with annexation while the friendly administration of President Donald Trump's is in office.

The White House's long-awaited Middle East plan, unveiled earlier this year, envisions leaving parts of the West Bank under permanent Israeli control. 

Israel seized the West Bank and east Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Since then, more than 700,000 Israelis have moved into settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The international community considers Israel's settlements illegal according to international law and an obstacle to a solution to the conflict.

The ruling Palestinian Authority seeks all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of an independent state.

Read more: Benny Gantz's betrayal has secured Israel's right-wing future

Annexation of West Bank settlements would infuriate the Palestinians and Israel's Arab neighbors, and eliminate any lingering hopes of establishing a viable Palestinian state.

The Netanyahu-Gantz deal stipulates that any Israeli action would need US backing, and must take into account Israel's peace treaties with neighboring Jordan and Egypt.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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