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Simon Coveney condemns Israeli deal to approve Trump's plan for annexation of parts of West Bank

The Minister for Foreign Affairs’ comments come as a new government is set to be formed in Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu will remain as Prime MInister as part of the deal.
Benjamin Netanyahu will remain as Prime MInister as part of the deal.
Image: PA Images

TÁNAISTE AND MINISTER For Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has criticised a government formation deal in Israel which includes plans to annex territory in the occupied West Bank.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached a deal one-time rival  Benny Gantz to form a coalition government that will also see the pair share the top job.

The three-year agreement allows Netanyahu, 70, to stay in office for 18 months, during which he is due to stand trial on corruption charges he has long denied.

Gantz, 60, will then take over as premier for the remaining 18 months as Netanyahu bows out after 12 years in office — the longest premiership in Israeli history. 

Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, had squared off against Gantz in three inconclusive elections over the past year, but neither had secured enough support to form a viable governing coalition.

A key issue in the government talks was implementation of US President Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East peace plan, which gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish Settlements and other territory in the occupied West Bank.

Such annexations would defy international law and the Trump deal has been rejected by the Palestinians and condemned by much of the international community.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned the formation of an “Israeli annexation government,” saying it marked the end of the two-state solution.

In a statement this morning Coveney said that while news a government deal in Israel was positive, one that involved the annexation of territory was against “the rule of law”.

“I take note of reports that a political agreement, reached during coalition negotiations in Israel, foresees the annexation of territory in the West Bank, which is part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” Coveney said.

“A new Israeli government has yet to be formally put in place, and I wish that process well. However, I think it important, as a friend and partner of Israel, to be very clear about the gravity of any such step. 

Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN Charter, whenever and wherever it occurs, in Europe’s neighbourhood or globally. This is a fundamental principle in the relations of states and the rule of law in the modern world. No one state can set it aside at will. 

“Ireland remains committed to a negotiated two-state solution that ends the occupation that began in 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States, on the basis of international law, the internationally-agreed parameters and relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Coveney added.

“This accords with the European Union’s long-standing position. We firmly believe that this is the only outcome which will provide long-term security, freedom and prosperity to both peoples.” 

As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Coveney has criticised other planned Israeli settlements but declined to the support the Occupied Territories Bill which sought to prohibit Ireland from trading in goods and services from Israeli-occupied territories.

Trump deal

As well as prompting criticism within the international community, the annexation plan is likely inflame tensions in the volatile region.

Gantz had praised Trump’s controversial plan but was more cautious regarding its implementation.

The coalition agreement says that any measures regarding Trump’s plan would be executed “in full agreement of the United States,” while maintaining “international dialogue” and “the need to maintain regional stability”.

At the same time, with Gantz’s permission, Netanyahu can bring Trump’s annexation plan to cabinet and parliament for discussion and approval from 1 July.

Speaking yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a decision whether to annex much of the West Bank is the prerogative of Israel’s new government. 

“As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo told reporters.

“That’s an Israeli decision. We will work closely with them to share with them our views in a private setting.”

- With reporting by © – AFP 2020

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Rónán Duffy

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