Palestinians and allies roundly condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday for promising to begin effectively annexing parts of the West Bank if given another term in office.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vowed to cancel any previous agreements with Israel if it went ahead with the move, and Amman warned that extending sovereignty would kill the already moribund peace process.
Netanyahu pledged in a speech on Tuesday to apply Israeli sovereignty over significant portions of the West Bank, if he is reelected in next week’s national vote.
Netanyahu promised in his remarks to apply sovereignty over the vast majority of the Jordan Valley, almost a quarter of the West Bank, as soon as he forms a government. And he reiterated his pledge to do so over all settlements in the West Bank later on, with US coordination.
“All signed agreements with the Israeli side will have come to an end, if the Israeli side applies Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the northern part of the Dead Sea or any part of the occupied Palestinian territories,” Abbas said, according to the government-run news site Wafa.
Abbas has threatened in the past to cancel PA agreements with Israel, but has never actually done so.
Abbas also said that the Palestinians maintain “the right to defend our rights and achieve our goals through all available means regardless of the consequences,” the Wafa report stated.
PA Social Affairs Minister Ahmad Majdalani told The Times of Israel that Abbas was only referring to “means” considered legitimate by international law.
Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, slammed Netanyahu’s statements, arguing that if the prime minister brings them to fruition, he will have set the peace process back a century.
“Netanyahu announced his plan to annex the Jordan Valley and Palestine’s 37.2-kilometer shore along the Dead Sea,” tweeted Erekat, who lives in the Jordan Valley city of Jericho, which would become an isolated island under Netanyahu’s plan. “If he succeeds, he will have buried any chance for peace for the next 100 years. Israelis and the international community must stop this insanity. Annexation is a crime. It means reinforcing apartheid, violence, extremism and the spilling of blood.”
Erekat later issued a formal statement calling on the international community to recognize a Palestinian state and boycott settlement goods.
Hamas terror group spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the prime minister’s statements “will not change any facts or stop our people’s growing resistance from confronting the occupation and its plans.”
He also called on the PA to end its security ties with Israel and stop pursuing Palestinian operatives in the West Bank.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi blasted Netanyahu’s statements as a “dangerous escalation.”
“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.
Safadi also said the Arab League, where he participated in meetings on Tuesday, condemned Netanyahu’s comments in an emergency session, though no statement was published by the body.
The Saudis, who are believed to have developed close back-channel relations with Israel in recent years, also condemned the prime minister’s statements.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia utterly condemns and rejects the Israeli Prime Minister’s announcement,” the foreign ministry tweeted.
#RoyalCourt | The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia utterly condemns and rejects the Israeli Prime Minister’s announcement of his intention, if he won the election, to annex parts of the occupied West Bank
— Foreign Ministry ???????? (@KSAmofaEN) September 10, 2019
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu lashed out at Netanyahu’s remarks and vowed that Ankara will defend Palestinian interests.
“The election promise of Netanyahu, who is giving all kind of illegal, unlawful and aggressive messages before the election, is a racist apartheid state,” he wrote on his official Twitter account in both English and Turkish.
“Will defend rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers&sisters till the end,” he added.
The United Nations warned Netanyahu’s plan would have “no international legal effect.”