UN Chief Warns Israel West Bank Annexation Would Be ‘Most Serious Violation of International Law’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special envoy for the Middle East, called on Israel on Wednesday to abandon its plans to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank, warning that it threatened the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. A joint statement by several EU current and incoming members of the UN Security Council also said that annexation would have diplomatic consequences and would not be recognized by them. 

"If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations," Guterres told the UN Security Council. "I call on the Israeli government to abandon its annexation plans," Guterres said.

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The joint statement from the current and incoming EU members of the council – Germany, Belgium France, Estonia, Ireland, the U.K., and Norway –  stated that annexation "would have consequences for our close relationship with Israel and would not be recognized by us."

Mladenov meanwhile warned that annexation "will send one message and one message alone – bilateral negotiations cannot achieve a just peace. We cannot allow this to happen. No good can come out of the breakdown of dialogue and communications. Diplomacy must be given a chance."

He added that annexation "could dramatically alter local dynamics, triggering instability among the occupied Palestinian territory. This conflict has been marked by periods of extreme violence, but never before has the risk of escalation been accompanied by a political horizon so distant, an economic situation so fragile and a region so volatile."

James Cleverly, the U.K.'s minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa in the Foreign Office, told the Security Council that "annexation cannot go unanswered."