Abbas says Likud bid to annex parts of West Bank has US blessing

PA spokesman says ‘outrageous’ non-binding resolution by ruling party shows contempt for UN and international decisions

Members of the Likud Central Committee vote in favor of annexing parts of the West Bank at the Avenue Conference Center, near Ben Gurion Airport on December 31, 2017. (Courtesy)
Members of the Likud Central Committee vote in favor of annexing parts of the West Bank at the Avenue Conference Center, near Ben Gurion Airport on December 31, 2017. (Courtesy)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday condemned a Likud Central Committee vote a day earlier calling for parts of the West Bank to be annexed and implied Washington was involved in it.

The resolution “could not be taken without the full support of the US administration, who have refused to condemn Israeli colonial settlements as well as the systematic attacks and crimes of the Israeli occupation against the people of Palestine,” he said, according to the PA’s official Wafa news agency.

“We hope that this vote serves as a reminder for the international community that the Israeli government, with the full support of the US administration, is not interested in a just and lasting peace,” Abbas added. “Rather, its main goal is the consolidation of an apartheid regime in all of historic Palestine.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a press conference with the French president, following a meeting at the Elysee presidential Palace, in Paris, on December 22, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Francois Mori)

Earlier Monday, a spokesman for the PA said the resolution passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party showed derision for United Nations and other international decisions.

Yousef al-Mahmoud called the resolution “an outrageous violation of the resolutions of international legitimacy, especially the resolutions of the United Nations and the Security Council, as well as an irony and contempt for the entire UN system,” the Palestinian Wafa news service reported.

His comments came the day after the Likud Central Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, unanimously voted in favor of urging the faction’s leaders to formally annex parts of the West Bank and allow unlimited construction in the settlements.

Mahmoud claimed that the Likud move was a result of US President Donald Trump last month recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The spokesman stressed that only international law was valid in the disputed territories, “rather than laws imposed by military force and domination.”

“The Palestinian land that includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, foremost of which our eternal capital Jerusalem, is a land occupied by Israel along with other Arab territories, namely Sinai and the Golan, following the unfortunate aggression of 1967,” Mahmoud noted referring to the Six Day War during which Israel gained control of the contested areas.

The vote by Likud Central Committee is not binding on its Knesset lawmakers, but does carry political sway as MKs need the support of the 3,000-member body to succeed in the party’s primaries.

The resolution reads: “Fifty years after the liberation of Judea and Samaria, and with them Jerusalem, our eternal capital, the Likud Central Committee calls on Likud’s elected leaders to work to allow unhindered construction and to extend Israeli law and sovereignty in all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

Netanyahu, long an opponent of such ideological declarations by party institutions, but eager in recent months to appeal to the party’s right-wing base, did not attend the Likud gathering in the central city of Lod.

The Hamas terror group said in a statement Sunday the decision represented “the continued harming of Palestinian rights under US auspices,” and said it would only lead to “more resistance.”

The resolution marked the first time since the 2005 Israeli pullout from Gaza that party activists have gathered the hundreds of signatures required to propose such a resolution.

According to the party’s constitution, any such petition that receives support from over 20 percent of the Central Committee’s members requires the body to convene within 30 days.

While the petition had been filed in May, there had been a substantial delay in convening the meeting.

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