Vexed by annexation: The battle inside the EU over Israel

Two months before Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan on Jan. 28, Luxembourg’s foreign minister was certain the U.S. president would break with the European Union and recognise Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Jean Asselborn wrote to his EU colleagues on Dec. 1 to warn that a lasting, two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians was being “dismantled piece by piece, day after day”, according to the letter, reviewed by Reuters.

In an assertive move for Luxembourg, a country of just 626,000 people but a founder member of the European Union, Asselborn urged the bloc to “speak with a strong and unified voice” and defend a world “where the rule of law prevails, not the rule of the strongest”.

Trump’s highly contested plan duly offered U.S. recognition of Israel’s settlements dotted across the West Bank, and Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley — land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and claimed by Palestinians for their own future state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set July 1 as the date to begin moving forward on the annexation.