Arab nations condemn Netanyahu’s West Bank annexation plan


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

On Tuesday Mr 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.

What did the Israeli PM say?

Mr 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," Mr 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 Mr Netanyahu earlier this year failed to successfully form a workable coalition government following another vote.

The BBC's Middle East Correspondent, Tom Bateman, says the prime minister's announcement is likely to help him shore up support on the political right.

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Blue and White's co-leader, Yair Lapid, hit out at Mr 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.

How have others responded?

The Arab League said Mr Netanyahu's plan would violate international law and "torpedo" the foundations of peace.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told AFP news agency Mr 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 Mr Netanyahu for "giving all kind of illegal, unlawful andRead More – Source