Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated his intention to annex the illegally occupied territory, in a move that would kill the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The EU is reportedly considering sanctions against Israel over its planned attempt to annex the occupied West Bank.

Officials have already expressed their unequivocal opposition to the plan repeatedly articulated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the past few years.

"Annexation is not in line with international law. If it goes ahead, the EU will act accordingly," Peter Stano, the EU’s foreign policy spokesperson said on Monday.

While there has been no official clarification of what measures the EU will take should Israel proceed with the annexation, Palestinian news agency WAFA and the Israeli outlet Israel Hayom, have both reported that sanctions are being considered.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, is said to be a key advocate of sanctions. 

Foreign ministers from the bloc are set to discuss the EU’s next steps during a video conference scheduled for Friday.

Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian territories, such as East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip since 1967 after defeating a coalition of Arab states during the Six Day War.

The Israeli victory was followed by an immediate programme of settlement building, with more than half a million Israelis now living in Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

With the election of stalwart Israel supporter Donald Trump to the White House in November 2016, Israel’s prime minister has sought to formalise his country’s grip on the occupied territories. 

In 2019, the US recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which are occupied from Syria, despite UN resolutions to the contrary.

Such support may explain Netanyahu’s confidence that the US will back his plans to annex the West Bank.

“I’m confident that that pledge will be honoured, that we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism,” the Israeli leader told a meeting of Christian Zionists in April.

The US State Department has made clear that it is ready to accept Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.

"As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognise Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel,” a spokesperson said in April.

Decades under occupation

For five decades, the roughly 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under a military occupation that dictates most aspects of their lives.

Non-Jewish residents of the territory are subject to restrictions on their movement and have to put up with frequent checkpoints that stifle all travel within the territory.

To make way for Israeli settlements, Palestinians are subject to land confiscations and home demolitions.

Human Rights Watch has also condemned Israel for its policy of arbitrary arrests and jailing of Palestinians, including children, for minor offences or none.

The annexation of the West Bank would open the door to a formalisation of the two-tiered rule its residents already live under - Israeli law for Jewish settlers and military rule for Palestinians.

South African visitors to the territory have compared the system in place to the apartheid white supremacist system set up in South Africa until its dissolution in 1994.

Source: TRT World