In dissent from the United States, Britain will not support Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, Junior Foreign Minister James Cleverly said on Monday.
Entering Palestinian land into Israel will make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve, he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank, under Israeli military occupation since 1967.
Pompeo is expected to visit Israel this week to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and its new coalition partner Benny Gantz, on the journey expected to focus on Israel’s plan to formally absorb part of the occupied Palestinian territories – reportedly the fertile Jordan Valley region and other major strategic sites – to the country of Israel.
UN, EU warns Israel against the annexation of the West Bank [2:27]
But Cleverly, Britain’s state minister for the Middle East and North Africa, told Parliament: “Our old position is that we do not support the annexation of parts of the West Bank, and … doing so can make the sustainability of a two-state solution more difficult.”
‘Contrary to international law’
A spokesman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Al Jazeera that the minister only restated the government’s old policy on the West Bank.
“Britain is concerned about reports of possible steps towards the annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in January.
“Any unilateral step like that will undermine new efforts to restart peace negotiations, and contravene international law. Any changes to the status quo cannot be continued without an agreement negotiated by the parties themselves.”
Alone among most governments, the administration of US President Donald Trump said he would support the annexation of the occupied West Bank region claimed by Palestine to the country finally as long as Israel agreed to hold peace talks with the Palestinians.
Pompeo: Attachments from the occupied West Bank to Israel [6:35]
Pompeo is expected to be in Israel for several hours on Wednesday.
France, meanwhile, urged other countries in the European Union – Israel’s biggest trading partner – to consider threatening Israel with a difficult response if it continues to advance with de facto annexation, three EU diplomats told Reuters.
Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg also want to discuss possible economic measures of punishment during a meeting of foreign ministers on Friday, diplomats said – although all member states must agree on any collective action.
Netanyahu said cabinet discussions would begin in July to extend Israel’s sovereignty to Jewish settlements – whose existence is already seen as contrary to international law – and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, as debated under Trump’s Middle Eastern plan.
Al Jazeera and the news agency
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