In a joint letter to European Union foreign ministers, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) appealed for a firm and principled stance by the EU against any annexation by Israel of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
“Any such annexation would constitute a grave violation of international law and, as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov has observed, ‘deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace’,” said the letter.
The organizations are “calling on the EU to ensure that any such annexation is met with real consequences, at least commensurate with those adopted by the EU in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”
In case Israel proceeds with the planned annexation, said the letter, “the EU must surely suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement.”
Article 2 of the Agreement states that relations between the EU and Israel must “be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles”. Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty states that the Union’s external actions must be guided by the principles of fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, equality and solidarity, democracy, the rule of law, the UN Charter and international law.
“For the sake of the EU’s credibility and accountability to its own fundamental principles, it must enforce conditionality clauses such as Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and suspend the Agreement in the event of the threatened annexation,” said WCC and MECC.
The letter also expresses the WCC and MECC’s commitment “to the vision of a just peace for all people in the Holy Land.”
The unilateral annexation of yet more of the territory that remains to Palestinians cannot lead to justice or to peace, but only to greater injustice, dispossession, escalating tensions, regional destabilization, and the further erosion of respect for international law, the letter notes.
“The EU must not be complicit – by inaction or inadequate reaction – in this outcome,” the letter concludes.
The EU foreign minister are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss Israeli annexation plans and are expected to take a firm stand against it.