Palestinians urge sanctions if Israel moves to annex parts of West Bank
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Palestinians urge sanctions if Israel moves to annex parts of West Bank

FM Riyad al-Maliki says world must stand up to any violation of international law, but wonders if Jewish state is a ‘holy cow’ that no one will dare touch

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Ryad al-Maliki speaks to journalists following the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers ahead of the 28th Summit of the Arab League in Riyadh on April 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Ryad al-Maliki speaks to journalists following the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers ahead of the 28th Summit of the Arab League in Riyadh on April 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE)

The Palestinian foreign minister on Monday called for sanctions on Israel if it starts to annex parts of the West Bank.

But Riyad al-Maliki also questioned whether Israel was a “holy cow” no one dare touch.

He was talking to reporters in Poland after comments by the US envoy to Israel that the Jewish state had the right to annex at least some of the territory captured in 1967.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman made the claim in a New York Times interview published Saturday.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman said.

The administration has since appeared to distance himself from Friedman’s comments, with an anonymous official reported to be from the State Department saying no annexation plan was under discussion.

Many Israeli ministers and legislators expressed appreciation and praise for the envoy’s comments.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an event in Jerusalem marking the anniversary of the transfer of the US embassy to the city, May 14, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Palestinians and Arab Israelis reacted angrily, with the former dubbing Friedman a spokesman for settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged ahead of April’s elections to begin annexing West Bank settlements. After failing to build a governing coalition, he now faces new elections in September.

Israel took over the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War and the continued construction of settlements is seen by the international community as a major stumbling block to progress in the peace process with the Palestinians.

“Friedman with his statement is trying to help Netanyahu to have the courage to take such a decision” to annex, said Maliki.

“This is really something that the international community has to stand up to,” he said. “We cannot accept the annexation of territories by any country because this is [a] violation of international law.”

Maliki said sanctions should be imposed if Israel resorts to annexation.

“It should be expected that [the] international community will take up sanctions against Israel if Israel really ventures into such [an] approach,” he said.

“Or when it comes to Israel, is it really the holy cow that no one could really touch?”

Houses are seen in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, on November 27, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The PA foreign ministry said it was looking at filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian leaders said that Friedman comments showed “extremists” are involved in White House policy on the issue.

The Palestinian leadership has already rejected the long-delayed US peace plan, saying President Donald Trump’s moves so far show him to be blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

The Palestinians have called for countries to boycott a June 25-26 conference in Bahrain to discuss economic aspects of the peace deal.

More than 600,000 Israelis now live in West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem, among three million Palestinians.

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