May 26, 2020 - World

European leaders urge Netanyahu against West Bank annexations

Macron (R) with Netanyahu. Photo: Haim Tzach - Pool/Getty Images

Several European leaders have sent personal letters to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent days warning him against annexing parts of the West Bank, Israeli and European officials tell me.

Why it matters: Netanyahu is hoping for a green light from the U.S. to move ahead on annexations as early as July 1, but the letters from the leaders of Italy, France, Spain and the U.K. are signals of the strong international pushback Israel would face.

What they're saying: French President Emmanuel Macron wrote Netanyahu on Monday "in the spirit of friendship," to say that "unilateral steps in the West Bank... will undermine the stability in the Middle East."

  • Only dialogue with the Palestinians and a just and balanced solution will give Israel peace, security and stability," according to the text of the letter, seen by Axios.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote a similar letter in coordination with the French, European and Israeli officials told me. It's unclear if German Chancellor Merkel also wrote to Netanyahu.
  • The Spanish and Italian prime ministers also stressed that any steps taken by Israel must result from negotiations with the Palestinians and comply with international law.

The big picture: The coalition deal that allowed Netanyahu to form his new government says he can bring "the understandings with the Trump administration" on annexation up for a vote in his Cabinet or the Knesset as early as July 1 — but only with the full agreement of the White House.

The latest: Netanyahu said on Monday that the July 1 deadline won’t change.

Go deeper: Palestinians say agreements with U.S. and Israel void due to annexation plans.

Go deeper