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Germany, France decry West Bank annexation

June 19, 2020

The foreign ministers of France and Germany have demanded Israel halt plans to annex parts of the West Bank. Israeli spies have reportedly called for the plans to be expedited, with the world distracted the pandemic.

 Israeli soldiers patrol after a soldier was killed when a rock thrown off a rooftop struck him in the head g during an arrest raid, in the village of Yabad near the West Bank city of Jenin,
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo&M. Mohammed

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, have urged Israel to renounce its plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

"Our goal is still to prevent any annexation in violation of international law in the first place," said Le Drian, after meeting with Maas in Berlin on Friday.

The pair announced intensive talks between European Union partners and neighboring countries such as Jordan.

Maas said Israel's annexation plans were "of great concern" to him and Le Drian and that in the coming days, no effort would be spared to bring together the parties involved for talks. 

Maas said the issue of annexation should be brought to the forefront once more, and that it was still possible to use "the opportunity and the time window" before a possible annexation.

Israel's new government is expected to present its strategy on July 1 for implementing the Middle East "peace plan" drawn up by the Trump administration. The plan allows for Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, which Israel occupied in 1967.

Palestinians are completely opposed to the plan, fearing it will trigger a new wave of violence in the region.

Le Drian stressed that an annexation would increase "instability in the Middle East" and would violate international law. He said the two-state solution was still the only option, adding that close cooperation with European partners was necessary to achieve this goal. 

Read more: UN panel: Israel annexation of West Bank 'violates international law'

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Israel: Annex now, as world occupied with coronavirus

Israel's Ministry of Intelligence has reportedly compiled a document listing reasons for the immediate annexation of West Bank areas.

According to dpa news agency, the document finds that the support of US President Donald Trump means the timing is good.

"It is unclear what US support will look like after the November elections," the document reportedly says. 

The ministry reportedly found that the threat of violence was low, with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas both against conflict and no expectation of "severe unrest" in Jordan.

It also found that the international community was preoccupied with the fight against the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, unexpectedly visited the West Bank and warned against the annexation plans.

"Annexation is unprecedented for the peace process, and it will kill the two-state solution and will destroy all the foundations of the peace process,'" Safadi said after meeting with his Palestinian counterpart in the city of Ramallah.

He said the plans would "deprive all peoples of the region of their right to live in security, peace and stability."

aw/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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