In call with Abbas, Saudi king condemns Netanyahu annexation pledge
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In call with Abbas, Saudi king condemns Netanyahu annexation pledge

King Salman slams ‘very dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people’; Jordan urges world to ‘act effectively and quickly’ to prevent move

Saudi King Salman chairs an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Saudi King Salman chairs an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

King Salman of Saudi Arabia reiterated his country’s condemnation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election pledge to annex part of the West Bank, in a phone call Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Battling to win reelection in September 17 polls, Netanyahu issued a controversial pledge on Tuesday to annex the strategic Jordan Valley, which accounts for around a quarter of the West Bank.

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

“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.

The king also said Netanyahu’s pledge marked a “very dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people” and was a “flagrant violation” of UN and international laws, SPA added.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speaking to the press in Amman, Jordan, on September 12, 2019. (Screen capture Al-Mamlaka TV)

Critics have said the move, if implemented, could undermine efforts for a two-state solution as it would claim for Israeli lands the Palestinians would require for a contiguous state.

His pledge has drawn firm condemnation from the Palestinians, the United Nations, the European Union and Arab states.

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.”

Jordan’s top diplomat, Ayman Safadi, also repeated his government’s censure of Netanyahu’s announcement, calling it “catastrophic” and saying he expressed “extreme alarm” over the prospect at meetings Thursday with diplomats from the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Luxembourg.

The move would be “the last nail in the coffin of the already dying peace process” and was “a violation of international law,” the Jordanian foreign minister said.

Safadi said he told the ambassadors that “the world has to act, and act effectively, and act quickly, to prevent this decision from being implemented, because that would push the whole area into the abyss of despair and hopelessness and will obviously destroy all the hard work that all of us have been doing over decades to bring about a resolution to this conflict on the basis of a two-state solution.”

Also on Thursday, a United Kingdom government spokeswoman said that the implementation of any plan to annex any part the West Bank would elicit a response.

“Any proposal to annex any part of the occupied Palestinian territories or any step in that direction concerns us,” spokeswoman Alyson King said in short Arabic-language video clip posted on her Twitter Thursday.

“We must be clear that if any such proposal comes to fruition, there will be a response,” she added, without elaborating.

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