UN envoy demands Israel abandon annexation plans

Nickolay Mladenov referred to Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as a “destructive unilateral action that cements divisions and may put peace beyond our reach in our lifetime.”

By World Israel News and AP

The top United Nations envoy in the Middle East told Israel on Wednesday it should abandon its plans to annex Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Nickolay Mladenov claimed the move would violate international law, an argument rejected by the U.S. State Department, which stated unequivocally in 2019 that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not “illegal.”

Mladenov also called on the United States, Russia and the European Union to work with the U.N. to quickly come up with a proposal to enable the four parties in the so-called Middle East Quartet to take up their mediation role and work with countries in the region for peace.

“Israel must abandon the threat of annexation,” he said. “The Palestinian leadership must re-engage with all members of the Quartet.”

Since 2017, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has maintained a complete boycott of the Trump administration and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas continues to refuse to engage in negotiations with Israel.

On Wednesday, Mladenov referred to Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as a “destructive unilateral action that cements divisions and may put peace beyond our reach in our lifetime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex the Jordan Valley and portions of Judea and Samaria in line with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan.

Netanyahu formed a new Israeli government earlier this month with his chief rival, Benny Gantz, and the coalition agreement allows the prime minister to present an annexation proposal to the government as soon as July 1.

Abbas said late Tuesday the Palestinian Authority will no longer be committed to any signed agreements with Israel or the United States, following Israel’s annexation pledge.

Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the council he would meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Thursday “to understand better the practical side of the decision by the leadership and its implications on the ground.”

U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft referred to Trump’s peace plan in subsequent comments.

“What is needed right now, if we hope to take even a first step in the right direction, is for the parties to sit down with one another,” she said. “If this council is serious about wanting to see progress in the Middle East, then I urge each of you to look seriously at the steps you can take to encourage direct negotiations.”

Immediately before the council met, its four European Union members — France, Germany, Belgium and Estonia — and former member Poland delivered a joint statement. It expressed willingness “to support and facilitate resumed direct and meaningful negotiations between the two parties, to resolve all final status issues and achieve a just and lasting peace.”

The EU members said they are also ready to engage immediately with Israel’s new government and key parties.