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EU recognition of Palestine inevitable if Israel ‘steals’ West Bank: Luxembourg

Luxembourg has decried Israel’s controversial plan to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank as “stealing”, stressing that such a move would make the EU's recognition of the state of Palestine "inevitable".

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told German weekly Der Spiegel that the United Nations Security Council has taken a clear position, and declared Israeli settlements illegal in several resolutions, stressing that Israel’s annexation plan amounts to “stealing”.  

“In the Middle East, which is strongly shaped by religion, one could also say that an annexation violates the seventh of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal. An annexation of parts of the West Bank would be just that: stealing.”

Asselborn called for a tougher EU stance against Israel’s annexation plan, saying, “To write reproachful letters would be a humiliation for the EU and would significantly weaken its credibility.”

He suggested economic sanctions or the recognition of Palestine as a state in case Israel moves forward with its plan.

“The recognition of Palestine; this debate would gain a whole new dynamic. I would even consider it inevitable,” Asselborn said, noting that such a decision would not require a unanimous decision by all 27 member states.

Nine EU member states, including Sweden, Hungary, and Poland, have already recognized the state of Palestine.

“If others were to follow, it would likely achieve much more than economic sanctions,” Asselborn said.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he would start plans for annexing more areas in the occupied West Bank on July 1 in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s scheme.

Trump officially unveiled his scheme in January at the White House with Netanyahu on his side, while Palestinian representatives were not invited.

The proposal gives in to Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders, enshrining the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allowing the Tel Aviv regime to annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Trump’s highly provocative scheme, which further denies the right of return to Palestinian refugees, is also in complete disregard of UN Security Council resolutions and rejected by the vast majority of the international community.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. But Israel’s aggressive settlement expansion and annexation plans have dealt a serious blow to any prospects of peace.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

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