The European Union’s recognition of Palestine as a state would become “inevitable” if Israel moves forward with its controversial plan to annex the West Bank, Luxembourg’s foreign minister has said.
Speaking to German weekly Der Spiegel, Jean Asselborn called for a tougher EU stance against the Israeli government’s plan to annex significant parts of the West Bank.
“To simply write reproachful letters would be a humiliation for the EU and would significantly weaken its credibility,” Asselborn stressed, suggesting stronger measures like economic sanctions or the recognition of Palestine as a state if Israel does not give up its plan, slated to begin July 1.
“The recognition of Palestine. This debate would gain a whole new dynamic, I would even consider it inevitable,” Asselborn said, noting that such a decision would not require a unanimous decision by all 27 member states.
So far nine EU member states – including Sweden, Hungary, and Poland – have recognized the state of Palestine.
“If others were to follow, it would likely achieve much more than economic sanctions,” he stressed,
Luxembourg’s top diplomat underlined that Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank are no different from Russia’s move to illegally annex the Crimean Peninsula, and this necessitates the EU taking a stronger stance.
“I see no difference at all. An annexation is an annexation. It is a gross violation of international law,” he said.
Asselborn underlined that the UN Security Council has also taken a clear position, and declared Israeli settlements illegal in several resolutions.
“In the Middle East, which is strongly shaped by religion, one could also say that an annexation violates the seventh of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal. An annexation of parts of the West Bank would be just that: stealing,” he said.
Encouraged by the US President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century,” Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month announced that his government would formally annex the Jordan Valley and all settlement blocs in the West Bank.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there – as well as the planned annexation – illegal.
Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation, which would further undermine the two-state solution.