Middle East Monitor / May 11, 2020
The EU’s Foreign Affairs Commission could impose sanctions on Israel if the latter implements its annexation plan in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, Israel Hayom revealed on Sunday. According to the Israeli newspaper, an informed source said that EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is pushing for sanctions.
Israeli politicians within the new coalition government, including Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, have pledged repeatedly to annex large parts of the occupied territory. Indeed, the annexation of the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank is part of US President Donald Trump’s “peace plan” known as the “deal of the century”.
However, the newspaper pointed out that all major foreign policy decisions at the EU can only be made by a consensus among the bloc’s 27 member states. If it comes to a vote, Israel believes that its allies such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic will block any major punitive action which Borrell may try to push through.
Sweden, Ireland and Luxembourg are apparently pushing for the harshest response to any annexation, namely suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which regulates relations between Brussels and Tel Aviv. They might also push to exclude Israel from Horizon Europe, an ambitious EU research and innovation framework slated to run between 2021 and 2027, or for the EU to pull out of the open skies agreement with the occupation state, which it has yet to ratify.
All of these scenarios would have a significant economic impact, said Israel Hayom. It also alleged that Borrell is known for his “animosity” towards Israel. Critics of the colonial-settler state suggest that accusations of “anti-Semitism” are likely to follow.