Israel must abandon its intention to extend its sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, the UN Middle East envoy said on Wednesday, branding such a plan as a serious violation of international law that would "close the door to a renewal of negotiations."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said cabinet discussions would begin on July 1 on his plan to extend Israeli sovereignty to territory Palestinians want for their own state. There is no publicly stated deadline for the execution of the move.
"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," UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council.
"Israel must abandon its threat of annexation. And the Palestinian leadership to re-engage with all members of the quartet," he said, referring to the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations.
Mladenov urged the 15-member council to back a push by UN chief Antonio Guterres against unilateral steps that would hinder diplomatic efforts to renew negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Such a statement by the council is unlikely as it has to be agreed by consensus and the United States traditionally shields its ally Israel from any action.
"This council cannot dictate the end to this conflict. We can only encourage the parties to sit down together to determine how they wish to make progress," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said.
The Palestinians have rejected a peace plan by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.
Mladenov urged the quartet to "come forward with a proposal that will enable the quartet to take up its mediation role."
Also on Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated that a partial annexation of the West Bank would be a serious violation, adding that France is working with European partners to come up with a joint action plan for prevention and reprisal should Israel make such a move.
"For the past few days we have held several video conferences with European colleagues... with a view to deciding on joint preventive action and eventually a reprisal if such a decision were taken," Le Drian said at a parliament hearing.