Netanyahu vows to annex large parts of occupied West Bank | World news

Benjamin Netanyahu has announced he will annex large swathes of the occupied Palestinian territories if he is re-elected next week.

Israel’s prime minister said on Tuesday that he planned to make the move after next week’s Israeli election and hinted it may have been approved by Washington. “I am waiting to do this in maximum coordination with [Donald] Trump,” he said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli television.

He added that the US president was likely to release his long-touted Middle East peace plan soon. US officials have suggested the plan will not include a Palestinian state, something Netanyahu has promised to never let happen.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, is battling for his political survival and the announcement was interpreted as a rallying cry to his rightwing base.

The PM stood in front of a large map on an easel that showed Israeli sovereignty extended over the vast majority of the Jordan Valley. The area accounts for up to one-third of the West Bank.

The map appeared to show Israeli territory completely encircling the West Bank, slicing off the eastern border with Jordan. Jericho, a Palestinian city, and smaller Palestinian villages were displayed as enclaves that would not be annexed.

Raphael Ahren

Here’s the map of the territory of the Jordan Valley, in the West Bank, that Netanyahu vowed to annex if he wins next week’s election (blue: will be annexed to Israel; orange: will remain under Palestinian control)

September 10, 2019

“Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea,” Netanyahu said.

“This map defines our eastern frontier. We haven’t had this kind of opportunity since the [1967] Six Day War, and may not have it again for another 50 years,” he added, referring to the war in which Israel captured the land.

Hundreds of thousands of settlers live in outposts in the West Bank, which Israel’s military continues to rule, controlling the lives of more than 2.5 million Palestinians.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned that if Netanyahu’s plan goes ahead, “he would have succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis”.

He added: “We need to end the conflict and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

The announcement follows a similar pledge the prime minister made in April to annex Israeli settlements, but appeared to extend to a much larger part of the Palestinian territories that border Jordan. He made the earlier statement in similarly dramatic fashion just two days before an election in which he came out ahead with support from pro-settler nationalists. But he was unable to form a coalition and forced a second election.

The international community considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law, built on land confiscated from Palestinian families. Extending Israeli sovereignty over such a large area would also be seen as putting an end to fading hopes for a Palestinian state, as there would be little unbroken land on which to create it.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital early in his term as US president further damaged the two-state ideal. The Palestinians regard the occupied eastern section of Jerusalem as the capital of any future state, and cut contact with Washington after the declaration.

Earlier this year, Trump also recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau Israel captured from Syria in the same 1967 conflict and annexed in 1981. The move broke from the post-second world war international consensus that forbids territorial conquest during war.

Palestinians warned at the time that it set a dangerous precedent for land grabs in the West Bank.

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