'Annexation would represent a violation of international law' PM warns Israel over plans

1 July 2020, 11:52

Boris Johnson made the warning on Wednesday
Boris Johnson made the warning on Wednesday. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson has vowed not to recognise any change to the Israeli border with Palestine if the territory is annexed, warning the move would be illegal and jeopardise relations in the Middle East.

The Prime Minister warned his Israeli counterpart against any planned changes to the border, a plan which has met with huge international condemnation.

There have been signs of a delay to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank this summer.

Mr Netanyahu had said the move stemmed from US President Donald Trump's middle-east peace plan, but it had been condemned as being “fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace,” according to a letter signed by more than 1,000 lawmakers from 25 European countries.

On Wednesday Mr Johnson warned Mr Netanyahu against the move which he said he learned "with sadness" as a "life-long friend" of Israel.

"Annexation would put in jeopardy the progress that Israel has made in improving relationships with the Arab and Muslim world," the PM wrote in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

"But however strong their interest in a different kind of relationship with Israel, annexation would inevitably set back these opportunities and constrain potential Arab partners. Israel's enemies would seize upon it, and use it against those in the Middle East who want to see progress.

"Annexation would represent a violation of international law. It would also be a gift to those who want to perpetuate the old stories about Israel.

"I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead. If it does, the UK will not recognise any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties."

Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel's foreign minister, said Mr Netanyahu's plan would not begin on its target date of Wednesday.

Mr Netanyahu had earlier signalled a delay, saying the plan would begin "in the coming days".

The UN secretary-general, the EU and key Arab nations have all said the annexation would violate international law and undermine the goal of creating a viable independent Palestine state alongside Israel.

In the 1967 Middle East war, Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan and the international community considers Israel's more than 210 settlements to be illegal.