Israeli PM’s annexation plan draws condemnation from Palestinian, Arab leaders

Palestinian and Arab leaders on Tuesday condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the occupied Jordan Valley in the West Bank, while warning it could kill the peace process.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he would annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank right after Israel’s September 17 election, if he wins re-election.

“I intend to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea immediately after the elections,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech.

In angry reaction, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that all peace agreements will end if Netanyahu moves to annex the Jordan Valley, northern Dead Sea or any part of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

“We have the right to defend our rights and achieve our goals by all available means, whatever the results are, since Netanyahu’s decisions contradict the international legitimacy and international law,” the Palestinians leader said.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat warned that Netanyahu’s plan to annex part of the occupied West Bank will bury any chance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

“If Netanyahu is allowed to implement his plan of annexation, he will succeed in burying any chance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. The Israeli and the international community must stop such madness,” Erekat tweeted.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtaye also issued a statement, denouncing Netanyahu as a “destroyer of the peace process.”

The 2,400-sq-km Jordan Valley, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the West Bank, is regarded to be strategic both in terms of security and agriculture.

If Netanyahu moves to annex part of the West Bank, it would be a major shift from Israel’s long-held policy and is set to trigger strong criticism from Arab countries and the international community, and even escalate violent clashes with the Palestinians.

On Tuesday night, Netanyahu was whisked off the stage of an election rally, which was part of the Likud’s campaign ahead of the September 17 parliamentary elections, after rockets fired from Gaza Strip triggered air raid sirens in the southern city of Ashdod.

A spokesperson with Netanyahu’s Likud party told Xinhua that Netanyahu later returned to the stage to finish his speech. -Xinhua

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