Diplomatic Pressure Mounts on Israel to Delay Annexation as Long as Possible

“Diplomacy in my view may best be defined as the art of delaying inevitable decisions as long as possible,” Nahum Goldmann, a longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, quipped 40 years ago. Or as French politician Henri Queuille put it, “There is no urgent political problem that the absence of a decision can’t resolve.”

With a similar mindset, various players in the international community seek to win support for a delaying strategy to counter Israel’s plans for annexing parts of the West Bank.

Haaretz’s interviews with diplomats from international organizations as well as countries reveal a common message. They’re focusing on convincing the Israeli and American governments that the current timing of moves toward annexation is the worst possible,  undermining regional and global stability – in part due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Key players in the diplomatic efforts to delay an annexation are the United Nations and Germany, with the support of nearly all members of the European Union (though not Hungary) and the Arab League countries, especially Jordan and Egypt. Germany, considered one of Israel’s leading supporters at international organizations – and a gatekeeper of international law – adamantly opposes unilateral steps toward annexation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declarations on an annexation on July 1, in less than a month, have put Berlin in a major quandary. On July 1, Germany will be taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union and will be assuming the presidency of the UN Security Council. These two roles will require the Germans to choose between their allegiance to international law and UN resolutions on the one hand, and their historical commitment to Israel on the other.

Demonstrators protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

At the end of May, Germany and the Palestinian Authority issued an exceptional joint statement saying that annexation of territory in the West Bank (and East Jerusalem) violates international law and damages prospects for a two-state solution. They underlined their commitment to a solution based on the pre-1967 borders and their support for an overall, negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians based on UN resolutions.