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EU declaration against ‘Deal of the Century’ thwarted

Several European nations acted to prevent a declaration on behalf of all 27 members of the the European Union against the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan. The declaration would also have included a threat to Israel not to apply sovereignty over any part of Judea and Samaria.

The European Union foreign policy chief’s unusually strident warning Tuesday that an Israeli annexation in the West Bank won’t pass “unchallenged” reportedly came after he failed to convince Europe’s foreign ministers to issue a similar criticism as a unified bloc.

The EU sought to issue a unanimous statement in stinging fierce opposition to the US outline, but opposition from several countries prompted EU High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell to issue his own statement without the support of the member states.

At least six European member states apparently agreed and decided to oppose the resolution. They included Italy, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, and at least two other unnamed nations, latest reports said.

That opposition killed the joint statement, as EU foreign policy declarations must have the agreement of all 27 member nations.

In the statement, Borrell said: “The European Union is fully committed to the transatlantic partnership and values all efforts to help find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU recalls its commitment to a negotiated two-State solution, based on 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps, as may be agreed between the parties, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition – as set out in the Council Conclusions of July 2014.”

“The US initiative, as presented on 28 January, departs from these internationally agreed parameters.”

In his statement Borrell also criticized the deal’s suggestions on the issues of borders, Jerusalem, and its management of the “refugee question.”

“The European Union calls on both sides to re-engage and to refrain from any unilateral actions contrary to international law that could exacerbate tensions,” the statement said, adding that the EU is “especially concerned by statements on the prospect of annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank.”

“In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967.

“Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged,” he warned.

He concluded by promising that “the European Union will continue to support all efforts aimed at reviving a political process in line with international law, which ensures equal rights and which is acceptable to both parties” and emphasizing that “the European Union reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned Borrell’s threats. “The fact that Josep Borell chose to use threatening language toward Israel, shortly after he took office and only hours after his meetings in Iran, is unfortunate, to say the least and very strange,” the Foreign Ministry stated.

The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war — for an independent state and the removal of more than 700,000 Israelis from these areas.

Borrell has noted that member countries are “very much divided” over how to handle Middle East peace moves.

Header: Josep Borrell and Mohammad Javad Zarif