European powers condemn Netanyahu vow to annex Jordan Valley

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom issue joint statement warning move would be ‘a serious breach of international law’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Five leading European powers issued a joint statement late Thursday condemning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, saying it would be “a serious breach of international law.”

“France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are deeply concerned about the announcement of a possible annexation of areas in the West Bank, particularly the Jordan valley and the northern shore of the Dead Sea,” the statement said.

“This would, if implemented, constitute a serious breach of international law,” it said, warning that such moves “imperil the viability of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 lines, and make it harder to achieve a just and lasting peace.”

The statement also condemned recent rocket fire from Gaza into Israel,

“We are clear about Israel’s right to security and strongly condemn recent attacks on Israel from Gaza,” it said.

The European countries’ condemnation joined widespread international opposition to the announcement.

Battling to win reelection on September 17, Netanyahu issued the pledge on Tuesday night, drawing firm condemnation from the Palestinians, Arab states, the United Nations and the European Union.

He also repeated his intention to annex Israeli settlements in the wider West Bank, but in coordination with US President Donald Trump.

The US has so far been silent on the issue.

On Wednesday, Russia also warned Netanyahu’s pledge could escalate tensions.

The Russian foreign ministry said it was concerned over the Israeli leadership’s plan, saying its implementation could lead to a “sharp escalation of tensions in the region (and) undermine hopes for the establishment of long-awaited peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.”

The warning came ahead of Netanyahu’s visit to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia reiterated his country’s condemnation of in a phone call Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The king reiterated… Saudi Arabia’s condemnation and categorical rejection of the Israeli prime minister’s declaration on his intention to annex lands from the West Bank,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

At Saudi Arabia’s request, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a 57-member pan-Islamic body — said it will hold an emergency foreign ministers’ meeting on Sunday, two days before Israel’s election, to discuss the “Israeli escalation.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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