Portugal supports EU call to stop planned Israeli annex of parts of Palestine

  • Lusa
  • 25 June 2020

Portugal supports the "efforts of the EU to achieve a sustainable and lasting peace in the Middle East".

The Foreign Minister on Wednesday assured that Portugal supports the call made by the high representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, for Israel not to violate international law and to annex parts of Palestinian territory.

“Portugal associated itself with the grave concern expressed by the EU vice president about the possible annexation of parts of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, as provided for in the agreement of the Israeli coalition government,” Augusto Santos Silva told the Lusa news agency.

According to the minister, Portugal supports the “efforts of the EU to achieve a sustainable and lasting peace in the Middle East” and calls on Israel to “avoid any unilateral decision contrary to international law”.

One week before the deadline set by the Israeli government to begin annexations – July 1 – more than a thousand MEPs today asked their leaders to take a stand against plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, warning of the precedent this will set in international relations.

“Europe must take the initiative to mobilise international actors to avoid annexation and safeguard the prospects of a two-state solution and a just solution to the conflict,” said 1,080 signatories of a letter sent to the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, and the foreign ministers of 25 European countries.

“In line with the EU’s position, Portugal has welcomed the new Israeli government, which is a key partner of the Union”, but in this context “supports a two-state solution, with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the resumption of negotiations between the parties”, Santos Silva said.

The Israeli government, a coalition between the Likud party and the Blue and White coalition resulting in two alternate prime ministers (Benjamin Netanyahu for the first 18 months and Benny Gantz for the following 18 months), intends to begin the process of annexing the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in the West Bank from July 1.

The annexation is a unilateral action already contested by the Palestinians and the majority of the international community, but which is supported by the United States.

The measure, which is part of the Trump administration’s “Vision of Peace” strategy, questions the most basic norms of international relations, including the United Nations Charter, the MEPs who signed the letter consider.

“President Trump’s plan breaks the internationally agreed parameters and principles,” they add.

“In practice, [annexation] promotes the permanent control of Israel over a fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving the Palestinians without sovereignty,” the signatories warn.

MEPs, most of whom belong to left-wing parties, show “deep concern” over the precedent this annexation would create for international relations in general and call for “proportional consequences”.

“The acquisition of territory by force makes no sense in 2020,” they note, warning that “the lack of an adequate response will encourage other states with territorial claims to ignore the basic principles of international law.

The initiative for the letter was promoted by Israeli academics and politicians, such as the former Speaker of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and leader of the Jewish Agency, Avraham Burg, who described the annexation as a “tremendous political blow” to the possibility of having a just solution to the conflict in the country.

A coup which, according to Avraham Burg, should “have consequences”.

The UN Secretary General and the Arab League also asked Israel today to abandon the annexation plans, considering that they undermine international efforts for peace in the Middle East and a two-state solution.

“We are at a crucial moment”, warned the UN Secretary General António Guterres today at the opening of a UN Security Council meeting focusing on Israeli annexation.

Guterres, who does not usually attend these kinds of sessions, addressed the Council to warn that Israel’s plans would be a unilateral step that would undermine any prospect of a return to peace negotiations in the Middle East.

The Arab League also urged Israel today to abandon plans for an annexation of the West Bank, as it could “end international efforts to create a viable Palestinian state”.

This call was made during a UN Security Council videoconference attended by several ministers, which is the last international meeting before Israel’s possible implementation of these annexation plans in July.