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EU Lawmakers Urge Action Against Israel's 'De-facto Annexation'

EU Lawmakers Urge Action Against Israel's 'De-facto Annexation'

Monday, 1 March, 2021 - 12:00
FILE PHOTO: Birds fly as the Israeli settlement of Ramat Givat Zeev is seen, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

More than 400 European parliamentarians have urged leaders to use Joe Biden's new presidency as an opportunity to stop what they term Israel's "de-facto annexation" of the occupied West Bank.

A letter seen by AFP was signed by 400 European politicians from across a range of backgrounds who serve in national legislatures and senates or in the European parliament.

Addressed to European foreign ministers and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the letter argues that "the Biden administration presents a chance to correct course" in Middle East diplomacy.

"The previous US administration left the conflict farther away from peace than ever," it added.

Former president Donald Trump broke with much of the international consensus concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided capital" and moved Washington's embassy there, infuriating the Palestinians who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

The State Department under Trump also said it no longer viewed Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal.

Trump's widely criticized Middle East peace plan ear-marked parts of the West Bank for Israeli annexation.

While the Trump plan is dead, settlement expansion continues, with Israel regularly approving the construction of new homes for Jews on occupied Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close Trump ally, agreed to pause West Bank annexation plans in exchange for the diplomatic normalization with the United Arab Emirates.

"However, developments on the ground clearly point to a reality of rapidly progressing de facto annexation, especially through accelerated settlement expansion and demolitions of Palestinian structures," said the letter.

"Europe must work with the Biden administration, countries in the region and the parties on the ground to prevent unilateral action undermining the possibility of peace, advance the rights and security of all people under Israel's effective control."

Biden has indicated his administration will restore US opposition to West Bank settlements expansion, but he does not intend to move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv.

The letter also said that Gaza "remains at risk of violent escalation at any moment", blaming both the Israeli blockade and "intra-Palestinian divisions".

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