L-R: Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn; Foreign Minister of Palestine, Riad Malki; Credit: MAEE

Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, has condemned remarks by the Prime Minister of Israel concerning the annexation of the West Bank.

On Wednesday 11 September 2019, Minister Asselborn undertook a working visit to Ramallah in Palestine, where he was received by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister also had a meeting and working lunch with his Palestinian counterpart Riad Malki. The discussions provided an opportunity to take stock of the political situation and the reconciliation process between Palestinians and to stress the importance of preserving the prospect of a two-state solution.

Following the announcement made the day before by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, if re-elected this month, he intends to apply Israeli sovereignty to a strategic part of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn made the following statement during his visit to Ramallah:

"This announcement is unacceptable. It goes against international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions. If this announcement were implemented, it would mean the end of the peace process and efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the two-state solution. Even in an election campaign, one must realise that such an announcement hurts the Palestinian people and undermines the prospect of lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I hope that after the elections in Israel, there will be a period of reflection and that respect for international law will be reaffirmed".

Indeed, in a context of deteriorating security on the ground and renewed intercommunal violence, Minister Asselborn lamented the political stalemate in which reconciliation efforts between Israelis and Palestinians are currently taking place, encouraging calls for calm and restraint.

In reaffirming the importance of putting an end to violations of international law, Jean Asselborn recalled that "among the constants of its foreign policy, Luxembourg has long and consistently defended the two-state solution, and the right of the Palestinian people to have a viable, independent and democratic state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital and living in peace and security alongside Israel ".

Exchanges of views with the Palestinian authorities also provided an opportunity to take stock of bilateral relations. As part of their meeting, Ministers Asselborn and Malki signed a Memorandum of Understanding on political consultations between Palestine and Luxembourg. This text establishes regular political consultations at the level of ministers and senior officials with the aim of developing and deepening cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

Jean Asselborn then visited the NGO "Palestinian Medical Relief Society" (PMRS), whose women's health programme has received supported  by the Luxembourg Cooperation since 2008. The minister met with Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi, the President and Founder of PMRS, as well as with young NGO volunteers. One of PMRS's activities is to provide first aid, especially during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli law enforcement.

Prior to this visit, the minister met with Nidal Foqaha, Director-General of the Palestinian Peace Coalition-Geneva Initiative, in Jerusalem to discuss ongoing efforts to maintain dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian experts. He also met with Nickolay Mladenov, the UN's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to review UN efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, particularly in the Gaza Strip, reduce tensions, prevent the escalation of violence and maintain the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.