United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told Israel to “abandon” plans to apply sovereignty over parts of the Judea and Samaria region, news agency Reuters reported. The move “would constitute a most serious violation of international law,” the UN chief warned. 

The statement comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers extending Israel’s sovereignty over the area as early as next week, Israel news reports confirm. Based on an agreement with his coalition partner Benny Gantz, PM Netanyahu could be able to commence the procedure on July 1.

Israel gained control over the area from Jordan in the defensive war of 1967. The application of sovereignty over the region will be in keeping with U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan unveiled in January 2020. The Trump plan advocates for extending Israel’s sovereignty initially to over 30 percent of Judea and Samaria, which constitutes the historic Jewish heartland. 

Reuters reported the UN chief’s statement:

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Israel on Wednesday to abandon plans to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank, warning this threatened prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

“If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations,” Guterres told the U.N. Security Council.

“I call on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plans,” he said.

The UN chief’s statement comes after repeated threats by the European Union to sanction Israel over the proposed measure. “We must work to discourage any possible initiative toward annexation,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned on May 15. 

The EU campaign to bully Israel has strong backing from many European lawmakers. “More than 1,000 European parliamentarians from across political lines strongly opposed Israel’s plan…in a letter published on Wednesday,” France-based broadcaster EuroNews reported.

These lawmakers called for a European-led campaign to force Israel into submission. “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,” the letter signed by the European parliamentarians said

The United States refused to join the EU-UN campaign against Israel, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday stating that decision on the sovereignty was “for Israelis to make.” 

Pompeo-led State Department has been evident in its support for the move. “As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel,” a State Department spokesperson clarified in April.

Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom reported Secretary Pompeo’s remarks:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday it is up to Israel to make its own decisions on whether to declare sovereignty over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to do despite international opposition.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Netanyahu’s July 1 target date, Pompeo said extending Israeli sovereignty was a decision “for Israelis to make.” (…)

Senior aides to US President Donald Trump began discussions on Tuesday on whether to give Netanyahu the green light for the application of sovereignty, which has drawn condemnation from the Palestinians, US Arab allies, and a number of other foreign governments.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged Israel to abandon plans to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, warning this threatened prospects for peace with the Palestinians.

Under Trump’s Middle East peace proposal, unveiled in January, it is envisaged that the United States would recognize the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as part of Israel.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sided with the EU and the UN on the issue of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. “I do not support annexation,” Biden said on May 19, referring to the planned extension of Israeli law to the area. 

Biden also vowed to undo the measures taken by President Trump. “I’m going to reverse Trump administration steps which I think significantly undercut the prospects of peace,” he added. This would include moving the U.S. embassy out of Jerusalem, media reports said

Germany ‘warns’ Israel against Judea and Samaria sovereignty plan

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