Macron urges Netanyahu to forego sovereignty move

Macron warned it would violate international law, a position that is not universally accepted.

By AP and World Israel News Staff

French President Emmanuel Macron is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, warning that it would violate international law and threaten long-term peace efforts.

The two leaders spoke by phone Thursday, and Macron’s office said in a statement Friday that he told Netanyahu “to abstain from taking any measure to annex Palestinian territories.”

Macron also reiterated France’s commitment to Israel’s security and determination to work to calm tensions in the region.

Tensions have been high in recent weeks as Israel has vowed to proceed with plans to apply sovereignty to 30 percent of Judea and Samaria, in line in President Donald Trump’s Middle East initiative.

Netanyahu has appeared determined to carry out the plans, which have been welcomed by Israel’s religious and nationalist right wing but condemned by the Palestinians and the international community.

Netanyahu told Macron that decades of past peace efforts had led to failure and that Israel was prepared to negotiate on the basis of the Trump plan, which “has new ideas that enable genuine progress,” according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

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The international community has invested billions of dollars in promoting a two-state solution since the interim Oslo peace accords of the 1990s. The U.N. secretary general, the European Union and leading Arab countries have all said that any Israeli sovereignty would violate international law and greatly undermine the prospects for Palestinian independence.

However, the assertion that applying sovereignty would violate international law, though repeated endlessly, is steeped in controversy. A group of 100 attorneys from Israel and the world published an opinion recently that the move doesn’t contradict international law.

The International Legal Foum sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week saying that the status of Judea and Samaria is inaccurate and those who ignore Israel’s claim are “wrong and intellectually dishonest.”

The group noted there are two schools of thought – one says Israel is sovereign and the other says the Palestinians. The group said the issue is a political and not a legal one and legal standards shouldn’t be used to try and solve it.

The Trump administration has rejected the idea that applying sovereignty or building Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is in violation of international law.

In the U.S. on June 23, a group of Senate Republicans sent a letter to President Donald Trump in support of Israeli sovereignty.

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The senators wrote to express their support for the implementation of the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan released earlier this year, “including the extension of Israeli civil law into Israeli communities and areas critical for Israel’s security such as the Jordan Valley,” JNS reports.