Arab nations condemn Netanyahu’s annexation plan | Daily News

Arab nations condemn Netanyahu’s annexation plan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley as he gives a statement in Ramat Gan, near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, on Tuesday. - AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley as he gives a statement in Ramat Gan, near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, on Tuesday. - AFP

ISRAEL: Arab nations have condemned a plan by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to annex part of the occupied West Bank.

On Tuesday Netanyahu pledged to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea if he is returned to office following a General election next week.

Officials in Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia sharply criticised the announcement.

The Arab League denounced “the dangerous development” as “aggression”.

Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat said such a move would be a “war crime” that would “bury any chance of peace”.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 but has stopped short of annexation.

Palestinians claim the whole of the area for a future independent state. Mr Netanyahu previously insisted Israel would always retain a presence in the Jordan Valley for security purposes.

Netanyahu, who was campaigning for the election, unveiled the plan in a televised address.

He also said he would annex all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but this would need to wait until the publication of US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited plan for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

“There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the elections,” Netanyahu said about the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea. “If I receive from you, citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do so.”

The Prime Minister leads the right-wing Likud party who are currently neck and neck in the polls with the opposition centrist Blue and White party.

A snap general election is being held next Tuesday, after Netanyahu earlier this year failed to successfully form a workable coalition government following another vote.

Blue and White’s co-leader, Yair Lapid, hit out at Netanyahu, insisting he “doesn’t want to annex territories, he wants to annex votes”.

“This is an election trick and it’s not even a particularly successful trick because the lie is so transparent,” he said.

The Arab League said Netanyahu’s plan would violate international law and “torpedo” the foundations of peace.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told AFP news agency Netanyahu was “not only destroying the two-state solution, he is destroying all chances of peace.”

Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, called the plan a “serious escalation” and warned it could “push the whole region towards violence”.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, described the pledge as “racist” and criticised Netanyahu for “giving all kind of illegal, unlawful and aggressive messages” before the election.

Saudi Arabia also condemned the announcement on state media as a “very dangerous escalation” and called for an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in response.

The Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area makes up about a third of the West Bank.

Netanyahu along with his right-wing and religious allies won a majority of seats in April polls, but he failed to form a coalition and opted for an unprecedented second election in five months.

He is again facing a difficult challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance.

Gantz, who has in the past spoken of keeping the Jordan Valley under Israel’s control forever, said “I have no doubt that this will be yet another empty promise because there is nothing behind it”. Right-wing nationalist votes will be key to Netanyahu’s efforts to continue his reign as Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

- BBC, AFP


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