In this file photo, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (R) meets with Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019, in New York. (DON EMMERT / AFP)
RAMALLAH - United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres invited on Wednesday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to join a meeting to discuss the Palestinian cause after Israel decided to push through with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
The four European Union (EU) members of the UN Security Council -- Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany – plus Poland, which has just left the council, and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process warned against Israel's planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory
The official Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported on Wednesday that the International Quartet, which comprises the United States, the UN, the European Union, and Russia will convene soon although no date has been set yet.
Guterres invited Abbas to join the meeting to prepare for a successful international ministerial meeting that will thoroughly discuss the situation the Palestinian cause.
"Guterres reiterated to President Abbas during a telephone conversation on Wednesday that the UN position towards the Palestinian cause is constant and based on international law and international resolutions," the report said.
According to the report, Abbas briefed Guterres on the Palestinian leadership's decision to end all the agreements reached with Israel and the United States in response to Israel's plan of annexing parts of the West Bank.
This comes as the four European Union (EU) members of the UN Security Council -- Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany – plus Poland, which has just left the council, and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process warned against Israel's planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.
The five EU countries expressed grave concern over Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank as stated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when presenting his government to the Israeli parliament on May 17.
"We strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to international law," said the five countries in a joint statement.
"International law is a fundamental pillar of the international rules-based order. In this respect, we recall that we will not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders, unless agreed by Israelis and Palestinians," said the statement.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov also warned of the grave consequences of Israel's planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory.
"The continuing threat of annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank would constitute a most serious violation of international law, deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace and our broader efforts to maintain international peace and security," Mladenov told the UN Security Council, adding that recent polls show that the Israeli public is also divided on the issue.
Mladenov does not see the Palestinian announcement to abolish all agreements with Israel and the United States as a threat.
"If I may speak openly and very frankly on the issue, whatever our individual assessments of the Palestinian reaction to the Israeli threat of annexation may be, it is certainly one thing -- it is a desperate cry for help,” Mladenov said. “It is a call for immediate action. It is a cry for help from a generation of a leadership that has invested its life in building institutions and preparing for statehood for over a quarter of a century."
He urged UN Security Council members to join UN Secretary General Guteres in his call against “unilateral steps that will hinder current diplomatic efforts” to create the conditions for bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table.
Mladenov asked the other parties of Middle East Quartet -- the European Union, Russia, the United States -- to work with the UN and quickly come forward with a proposal that will enable the Quartet to take up its mediation role and work jointly with countries in the region to advance the prospect of peace.
Mladenov said Israel must abandon the threats of annexation while the Palestinian leadership should re-engage with all members of the Quartet.
"I firmly believe that the time has come for all sides to do their part in the coming weeks and months in order to preserve the prospect of a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict, in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements," Mladenov said.
"These efforts must begin immediately, there is no time to lose. The fate of the Palestinian and Israeli people must not be determined by destructive unilateral actions that cement divisions and may put peace beyond our reach in our lifetime," he added.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said ending all Palestinian agreements with Israel and the US needed practical steps.
"Declaring the abolition of the Oslo agreement and other security and political understandings, mainly security coordination with Israel, needs real actions," said Hamas in an emailed press statement.
It called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step up measures in implementing the new Palestinian position.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtaye said his government will turn the Palestinian leadership's decision to quit all agreements with the US and Israel into deeds and facts.
Turkey also rejected Israel's plan to annex the West Bank, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said on Wednesday, emphasizing Ankara will support all measures against Israel's such actions.
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