Netanyahu’s Pledge To Annex Occupied West Bank Condemned By Arab Leaders

Topline: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex a large part of the occupied West Bank if he wins next week’s election. Arab leaders condemned Netanyahu’s proposal, which was branded as a major blow to the peace process with Palestinians.

  • In a televised speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would “apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea” as well as all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, if he wins the election next Tuesday. 
  • Polls suggest his right-wing Likud party is level with the centrist Blue and White alliance. His announcement is viewed as an election ploy to gain favor among other right-wing parties whose support he would need in a coalition, commentators say.
  • The areas in question, which make up about a third of the West Bank, are home to 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israelis, according to Israeli Human Rights organization B’Tselem.

Chief critics: The Arab League of 22 states said the move would be a “dangerous development” with the intention of violating international law. The organization added that the move would undermine the peace process and “torpedo all of its foundations.”

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, condemned the announcement as “devastating” for the peace process, adding: “Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any legal international effect.”

Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi described the move as “dangerous aggression.”

Key background: Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, and its continued military occupation and construction of 140 settlements in the region sits at the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Palestinians were able to form their own government following peace talks in 1993, but their hope to form their own state has faced several setbacks.

Netanyahu said his pledge to also annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which he made in April’s election campaign, would have to wait until the White House unveiled its long-awaited proposals for a peace deal. White House special envoy Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, unveiled an economic plan for the Palestinian people in June and is expected to release a peace plan proposal later this year.

Next Tuesday’s election follows an inconclusive vote in April that saw Netanyahu fail to form a coalition.

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I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night rep

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