BRUSSELS 

The EU should reach out to Israel and discourage the annexation of the West Bank, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said on Friday.

Josep Borrell was speaking at a news conference after the EU foreign ministers’ videoconference.

Ministers discussed the Middle East peace process, which remains a priority for the EU.

Borrell said that the bloc is looking forward to work with the new Israeli government which is supposed to enter into office next week.

At the same time, he reaffirmed the EU’s support for a negotiated two-state solution, based on 1967 lines, and warned against unilateral actions.

“We must work to discourage any possible initiative towards annexation”, the EU foreign policy chief said.

EU needs to reflect on its own capacities as a geopolitical power and reach out to Israel and all actors of the area by using all diplomatic channels to prevent annexation, Borrell added.

“Annexation is not in line with international law. If it goes ahead, the EU will act accordingly”, EU foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano had said earlier this week.

The annexation comes as part of US President Donald Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century plan, which was announced on Jan. 28.

It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank.

The plan states the establishment of a Palestinian state in the form of an archipelago connected by bridges and tunnels.

Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30-40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem.

The plan has drawn widespread criticism from the Arab world and was rejected by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which urged “all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form.”

Like Turkey and much of the international community, the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since 1967.

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