Netanyahu vows to begin annexing West Bank settlements

Netanyahu vows to begin annexing West Bank settlements

World leaders are denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call to annex large parts of the West Bank in the event he wins the upcoming election.

Shortly thereafter, President Trump is expected to release his Middle East peace plan, which "poses a great challenge for us and a great opportunity, a historic opportunity to apply sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank and other areas of importance to our heritage", the Israeli prime minister said.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu's annexation plan is "manifestly illegal".

The Jordan Valley, which Palestinians seek for the eastern perimeter of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stretches from the Dead Sea in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north. Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war.

That step, he said, could be taken "immediately after the election if I receive a clear mandate to do so from you, the citizens of Israel".


Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal-leaning American Jewish advocacy group, warned in a statement that Netanyahu's plan would "make the occupation permanent and condemn millions of Palestinians to a future of living under unending Israeli rule, without basic civil rights or self-determination".

He added that the USA president was likely to release his long-touted Middle East peace plan soon.

Stephane Dujarric, a United Nations spokesman, said Tuesday that the organization maintains that any Israeli move to impose its administration over the Palestinian territory "would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution".

"If I am elected I commit to annex the Jordan Valley".

Netanyahu said he hopes to carry out the annexation "in maximum coordination with [U.S. President Donald] Trump". Some 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in the area - most of which is under Israeli military control in what is referred to as Area C.


The Israeli leader has been making a last-minute push for votes ahead of Israel's general election on September 17.

Locked in a tight race, Netanyahu has resorted to a series of stunts in recent days aimed at drawing attention to his campaign and, critics say, diverting attention from a looming corruption case.

Next week's elections in Israel come just five months after the last time at the polls where Netanyahu's right wing won the majority of seats but failed to come to an agreement and join into one governing coalition. Netanyahu became Israeli's longest-serving prime minister in July.

Palestinian officials were outraged by the Israeli Prime Minister's speech.


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