Bahrain blasts Israeli plan to apply sovereignty over parts of West Bank
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Bahrain blasts Israeli plan to apply sovereignty over parts of West Bank

Qatar and Syria also slam Netanyahu’s comments; Saudi Arabia calls for emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, left, gives a joint press conference with Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, center, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, right, and their Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, Egypt, July 5, 2017. (Khaled Elfiqi, Pool, via AP)
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, left, gives a joint press conference with Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, center, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, right, and their Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo, Egypt, July 5, 2017. (Khaled Elfiqi, Pool, via AP)

Bahrain joined other Arab states on Wednesday in condemning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to begin effectively annexing parts of the West Bank, if he is given another term in office following next week’s national vote.

Netanyahu pledged in a speech on Tuesday to apply Israeli sovereignty over significant portions of the West Bank, including the vast majority of the Jordan Valley, if he wins another mandate to serve as prime minister.

Netanyahu said that, if reelected, he would quickly apply Israeli sovereignty over the majority of the Jordan Valley, and would aim to do the same for settlements in other parts of the West Bank after the US administration releases its plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The foreign ministry of the Kingdom of Bahrain strongly condemns the Israeli prime minister’s announcement of his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern part of the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank,” the Bahraini Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that Netanyahu’s comments “represent a barefaced and unacceptable violation of the Palestinian people’s rights and reflect resolve to not achieve a just and comprehensive peace.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to extend Israeli sovereignty there if reelected, during a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Bahrain has recently expressed greater openness to Israel, with its Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa describing the Jewish state as a part of the region.

In a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of a US-led conference in Manama in June, Khalifa told The Times of Israel that Israel’s existence is a fact, and that Bahrain would like peace with it.

“We do believe that Israel is a country to stay, and we want better relations with it, and we want peace with it,” he said at the time.

The Bahraini Foreign Ministry also called on the entire international community “to bear its responsibilities in confronting [Netanyahu’s] declaration” and affirmed its support for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital along the 1967 lines.

Later on Wednesday, Syria also slammed Netanyahu’s comments.

“We, the Syrian Arab Republic, condemn the prime minister of the usurping Zionist entity’s announcement regarding his intention to annex Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank to the Zionist entity,” an official source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry told the state-run Sana news site, adding that it constitutes “a new move to attack the Palestinian people’s rights and liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Manama’s and Damascus’s statements came after a number of Arab states denounced Netanyahu’s remarks on Tuesday.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry said Netanyahu’s statements constitute “an extension of the occupation’s policy of violating international laws and employing despicable methods to displace the brotherly Palestinian people and deprive them of their rights.”

Doha’s foreign ministry also appeared to accuse Netanyahu of making the comments about applying sovereignty to benefit his reelection campaign.

“The State of Qatar totally rejects violating the brotherly Palestinian people’s rights to achieve electoral gains,” it said on Tuesday.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attends the opening of the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019. (Fethi Belaid/ Pool photo via AP)

Saudi Arabia described Netanyahu’s statements as “a very dangerous escalation at the expense of the Palestinian people” and said that they “represent a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and international laws and norms,” the Saudi Royal Court said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the Gulf country called for an emergency meeting of foreign ministers of countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss them.

Riyadh also urged all countries and international organizations to condemn Netanyahu’s remarks and contended that the Arab and Islamic world’s “busy state of affairs with local and regional crises will not impact the Palestinian issue’s status” for them, the Royal Court said.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also blasted Netanyahu’s statements.

“We condemn Israel’s prime minister’s announcement — his intention to annex illegitimate Israeli settlements and apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern parts of the Dead Sea — as a dangerous escalation that is aimed at blowing up the foundations of the peace process,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

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