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AFP
July 11, 2020

France urges Israel to drop West Bank’s annexation plans

World

AFP
July 11, 2020

PARIS: Emmanuel Macron asked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank and elsewhere during a telephone call between the two leaders, the French president’s office said on Friday.

Macron "emphasised that such a move would contravene international law and jeopardise the possibility of a two-state solution as the basis of a fair and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians", his office said in a statement after the call on Thursday.

It was the latest move by European leaders pressing Netanyahu to drop plans to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley. The controversial move was endorsed in a Middle East plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump in January.

But Netanyahu’s office said on Friday that in the talks with Macron he "clarified that Israel is acting according to international law". "Israel is prepared to hold peace negotiations on the basis of President Trump’s plan," it said, reiterating a claim that "it is the Palestinian refusal to conduct negotiations based on this plan and on the plans of the past that is preventing progress".

Israel’s government had set July 1 as the date when it could begin taking over the Palestinian areas, where the population of Israeli settlers has grown since the 1967 Six-Day War. Under Trump’s plan, the territory seizures would eventually allow the creation of a Palestinian state on the remaining West Bank territory and in the Gaza Strip. But the plan falls far short of Palestinian aspirations, with a state on reduced territory and without east Jerusalem as its capital.

The foreign ministries of France and Germany, along with those of Egypt and Jordan -- the only Arab states to have peace deals with Israel -- warned this week that any annexation could have "consequences" for relations. But Macron told Netanyahu that France remained committed to Israel’s security and "expressed his attachment to the friendship and confidence that links France and Israel", his office said.