After Security Council meeting, Pompeo signals US backing for Israeli move; Israel’s envoy says it would be applying sovereignty, not annexing; UN chief warns of ‘watershed moment’
The United Nations, European Union countries, and the Arab League joined Wednesday in calling for Israel to abandon its plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
The calls were made during a UN Security Council video conference on the issue.
“We are at a watershed moment,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law. I call on the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans.”
He reiterated the longstanding goal of a two-state solution with an independent, contiguous, sovereign and viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit said annexation “will destroy any prospect for peace in the future” and could ignite “a religious war in and beyond our region.”
“The possible move by the Israeli government to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territory would constitute, if implemented, a serious threat to regional stability,” he added.
The UN coordinator for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, said annexation “could irrevocably alter the nature of Israeli-Palestinian relations.”
He added: “It risks upending more than a quarter of a century of international efforts in support of a future viable Palestinian state living in peace, security and mutual recognition with the State of Israel.”
Any Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories would be a “crime,” the top Palestinian diplomat told the UN Security Council, warning of immediate repercussions if that occurs.
While everyone speaks of a situation at the crossroads, said Palestinian representative Riad Al-Maliki, “Unfortunately the driver is Israel and seems it will not stop at the crossroads to assess the implications of its choices.”
“Israel seems determined to ignore that big red stop sign the international community erected to save lives,” he said.
In a joint statement, EU members of the Security Council warned annexation would harm its ties with Israel.
“We all currently enjoy a close relationship with Israel and wish to continue working with Israel in a constructive and comprehensive way, in the spirit of the longstanding friendship that binds us. However, following our obligations and responsibilities under international law, annexation would have consequences for our close relationship with Israel and would not be recognized by us,” it said.
Pompeo: Annexation up to Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated Wednesday that Israel had the US green light to annex Palestinian land.
“Decisions about Israelis extending sovereignty to those places are decisions for the Israelis to make,” Pompeo told reporters, moments after the UN Security Council meeting ended.
“We are talking to all of the countries in the region about how it is we can manage this process for our end-state objective,” he said.