France urges Netanyahu not to annex parts of West Bank

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to annex occupied territory in the West Bank, warning that it would violate international law and threaten long-term peace efforts.

The two leaders spoke by phone Thursday, and Macron’s office said in a statement Friday that he told Netanyahu “to abstain from taking any measure to annex Palestinian territories.” Macron also reiterated France’s commitment to Israel’s security and determination to work to calm tensions in the region.

Tensions have been high in recent weeks as Israel has vowed to proceed with plans to annex up to 30% of the occupied West Bank, in line in President Donald Trump’s Middle East initiative.

Netanyahu has appeared determined to carry out the plans, which have been welcomed by Israel’s religious and nationalist right wing but condemned by the Palestinians and the international community.

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Netanyahu told Macron that decades of past peace efforts had led to failure and that Israel was prepared to negotiate on the basis of the Trump plan, which “has new ideas that enable genuine progress,” according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

The international community has invested billions of dollars in promoting a two-state solution since the interim Oslo peace accords of the 1990s. The U.N. secretary general, the European Union and leading Arab countries have all said that any Israeli annexation would violate international law and greatly undermine the prospects for Palestinian independence.

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