Israel’s Arab Party Calls on E.U. to Impose Sanctions over Annexation, Recognize ‘Palestine’

BELGIUM-EU-ISRAEL-DIPLOMACY Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini looks on during a press conference at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ?holding talks on December 11 with EU foreign ministers, days after the US decision …
JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV — Israel’s Arab Joint List party, the country’s third largest, on Tuesday called on the European Union (E.U.) to recognize a state of Palestine and cut ties with Israel unless the government drops its “expansionist” plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

In a letter to E.U. officials, including foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the 15 Joint List MKs call on the E.U. to “seriously examine all options and make it clear that it will suspend the E.U.-Israel Association Agreement should Israel fail to declare that it has permanently abandoned its expansionist aims.”

The agreement, signed in 1995, serves as the legal basis defining the relations between Israel and the E.U.

The letter makes two false claims. The first is that President Donald Trump’s peace plan calls for Israel to apply its law “over 40% of the West Bank” — its closer to 30%  — and the second is the claim that some Arab-Israelis would be “unilaterally transferred from their homeland into the Occupied Palestinian Territories” – a patently false statement.

The letter also declares that “the traditional approach based on providing incentives to Israel has thus far failed to achieve our shared legitimate positions.”

The Joint List party further calls on the E.U. to urge member states to recognize the state of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders. “Such a step would express strong support for Israelis and Palestinians striving for reconciliation,” the party said.

“Reaction to annexation should also include full implementation of the policy of differentiation between Israel and the settlements in all businesses,” the letter reads. “These steps will make significant progress toward rectifying grave injustices committed toward the Palestinian people and moving Israel and Palestine toward peace.”

The Joint List sent similar letters to U.S. Congressional Democrats as well as political parties in the UK.

Borell on Tuesday indicated the E.U. may impose punitive sanctions against Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation plans.

“There is a strong bond between Israel and Europe and we want to strengthen this bond and further deepen our relations, not see them retract,” he wrote in an op-ed published by The Jerusalem Post. “However, this is what will inevitably happen if unilateral annexation goes ahead,” he added.

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