EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell
EU foreign affairs chief Josep BorrellREUTERS

The European Union warned Israel Thursday against applying sovereignty over portions of Judea and Samaria, vowing to “closely monitor” Israeli moves in the area.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell noted the deal between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz for the formation of a unity government, expressing a willingness to cooperate with the new Israeli government in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, while cautioning the Jewish state against altering the status quo in Judea and Samaria.

“The European Union takes note of the political agreement that could pave the way for the formation of a Government in Israel. The European Union is willing to closely cooperate with the new Government on fighting the coronavirus.”

“Technical cooperation is ongoing and will be strengthened on all aspects of the pandemic. The health of our citizens and addressing the economic consequences of the coronavirus are our shared paramount priority.”

Borrell warned that the EU would strongly oppose Israel’s application of sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria – despite the move being supported by the US as part of the Trump administration’s peace plan – warning that such a step would be a major violation of international law.

“The European Union’s position on the status of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 remains unchanged. In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied West Bank.”

“The European Union reiterates that any annexation would constitute a serious violation of international law. The European Union will continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly.”

According to the deal signed between Netanyahu and Gantz, the new Israeli government will begin applying sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria allotted to it under the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan after July 1st.

Israel's Foreign Ministry responded to the statement Thursday by citing internal opposition to Borrell's comments by several EU states.

“It is sad to read that Josep Borrell, someone who is supposed to be in charge of the European Union’s foreign relations, has chosen promote the image of the new government of a central partner of the Union in such a way, and prefers to see the relations between Israel and the European Union through the prism of the [coronavirus] pandemic and the ‘status of the territories’.”

“Given the depth of this relationship, and in light of the fact that this message did not receive the backing of Union member states yesterday, we wonder what policies [Borrell] is choosing to represent – and not for the first time.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz added: “I thank our friends in Europe who opposed Borrell’s statement, and prevented the adoption of the text in the name of the EU. These states recognize the importance of relations with Israel, and we will continue to develop the relationship between Israel and Europe together.”