23 June 2020
Sir Vincent Fean, chair of the Balfour Project Board of Trustees and former British Consul-General in Jerusalem, writes:
The European members of the UN Security Council, current and incoming, have issued the following joint statement opposing Israeli plans to annex any part of the Palestinian West Bank. Key members include the U.K., France, Germany and Ireland. Unilateral annexation of occupied territory is a serious breach of the law – a crime. These European states would regard such an act as null and void. They reaffirm their support for the outcome of two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, an outcome annexation is designed to destroy. It is a strong statement, and welcome to the extent that it increases the pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to go back on his promise to annex West Bank territory as from July 1. The statement is imprecise about the consequences for Israel if Mr Netanyahu persists. This needs to be spelt out as a matter of urgency if he is to change his cost/benefit calculation. The options for action include:- Recognition of the state of Palestine alongside Israel on pre-June 1967 lines- Action against illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, to include banning the importation of goods produced in settlements – Sanctions like those imposed on Russia after its illegal take-over of Crimea in 2014.Our own Government needs to say now what it will do to deter an act which would add to the suffering of Palestinians caused by the Occupation, undermine the foundations of the state of Israel, and perpetuate conflict.
We, parliamentarians from across Europe committed to a rules-based global order,
share serious concerns about President Trump’s plan for the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and the imminent prospect of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory. We
are deeply worried about the precedent this would set for international relations at
For decades, Europe has been promoting a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in
the form of a two-state solution, in line with international law and relevant UN Security
Council Resolutions. Regrettably, President Trump’s plan departs from internationally agreed
parameters and principles. It promotes effectively permanent Israeli control over a
fragmented Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinians with no sovereignty and giving a green
light to Israel to unilaterally annex significant parts of the West Bank.
In line with the Trump plan, Israel’s new coalition agreement states that the government can
move forward with annexation as soon as 1 July 2020. Such a move will be fatal to the
prospects of Israeli- Palestinian peace and will challenge the most basic norms guiding
international relations, including the UN Charter.
We are profoundly concerned about the impact of annexation on the lives of Israelis and
Palestinians, as well as its destabilizing potential in a region on our continent’s doorstep.
These concerns are no less serious at a time when the world is struggling with the COVID-
19 pandemic, the largest collective emergency we have faced for decades.
In appreciation of Europe’s long-term commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict, we ask European leaders to act decisively in response to this challenge.
Europe must take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation
and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict.
European representatives, including EU High Representative Josep Borrell, have stated that
annexation “could not pass unchallenged”. We fully support this: acquisition of territory by
force has no place in 2020 and must have commensurate consequences. Failure to adequately
respond would encourage other states with territorial claims to disregard basic principles of
international law. The rules-based global order is central to Europe’s own long-term stability
and security. We have a profound interest and responsibility to protect it.
A lasting solution to the conflict must meet the legitimate aspirations and security needs and
guarantee equal rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. Europe has the diplomatic tools to
promote this just goal, and we stand ready to support such efforts.
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Click here to see a full list of signatories.
Rt Rev the Lord Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, United Kingdom
Rt Rev the Lord Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, United Kingdom
Rt Rev, the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, Christopher Foster, United Kingdom
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge, Former Universities Minister and Former Children’s Minister, Labour Party, United Kingdom
Rt Rev, the Lord Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtham, United Kingdom
Rt Hon Lord Michael Howard of Lympne CH, QC, Former Leader of the Conservative Party, Conservative Party, United Kingdom
Rt Rev, the Lord Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, United Kingdom
Rt Hon Lord Neil Kinnock, Former Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, Former Vice President of the European Commision, Labour Party, United Kingdom
Rt Hon Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, Former Security and Counter Terrorism Minister and Former Chair of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, Conservative Party, United Kingdom
Rt Hon Lord Chris Patten of Barnes, Former Chairman of the Conservative Party and Former European Commissioner for External Affairs, Conservative Party, United Kingdom
Rt Hon Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen, Former Defence Secretary and Secretary General of NATO, Labour Party, United Kingdom
Philippa Whitford, SNP, United Kingdom
Rt Revd Rt Hon Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth, Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Crossbench, United Kingdom
It is also signed by 35 members of Labour’s current front bench, including shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.