Israeli PM vows to begin annexing West Bank settlements

Netanyahu’s annexation plan ‘a serious violation of intl. law’ Guterres

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday (Sept 10) that he will apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, in the West Bank, if he wins next week's elections.

This year, as part of his election campaigns, Netanyahu has championed annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are regarded as illegal under global law by most of the world.

So far, The White House has remained tight-lipped about any support for the plan but a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and National Security Advisor John Bolton is scheduled for this afternoon. "Out of respect to President Trump, I'll wait with the application of sovereignty until after the president presents his plan", Netanyahu said.

In 2015 Netanyahu made a similar play, goading supporters with his infamous claim that "Arab voters are coming out in droves" while insisting that Israel would build anywhere it chose inside Jerusalem and never withdraw from the occupied territories. "Will exclude Jericho and its environs and doesn't annex even one Palestinian", Netanyahu said.

"We haven't had such an opportunity since the Six Day War and I doubt we will have another opportunity in the next 50 years". Some 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in the area - most of which is under Israeli military control in what is referred to as Area C.

Mr Netanyahu's announcement was widely seen in Israel as a pre-election stunt created to win over Right-wing voters and many questioned whether he would seriously follow through with it.

The stakes for Netanyahu in the election could not be higher.

The prime minister also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected, though in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be unveiled sometime after the vote.

Locked in a tight race, Netanyahu has resorted to a series of stunts in recent days aimed at drawing attention to his campaign and, critics say, diverting attention from a looming corruption case.

A view shows Palestinian houses in the village of Ein Yabrud with the Jewish settlement of Ofra seen in the background, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on September 3.

Shortly after the announcement, a senior Palestinian official said Netanyahu is putting the entire peace process in jeopardy.

Next week's elections in Israel come just five months after the last time at the polls where Netanyahu's right wing won the majority of seats but failed to come to an agreement and join into one governing coalition.



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