Arab countries condemned Israel’s plan to de facto annex parts of the West Bank as “a new war crime” against Palestinians, the Arab League said in a statement after a video conference meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Thursday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in announcing a deal to form a unity government, has set July 1 for the start of cabinet discussions on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and annexing outright the area’s Jordan Valley.
Palestinians have expressed outrage at Israel’s plans to cement its hold further on land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war, territory they are seeking for a state.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that it was up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank and said that Washington would offer its views privately to Israel’s new government, drawing a warning from Palestinians who vowed not to “stand handcuffed” if Israel formally took their land.
“As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s an Israeli decision. And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in a private setting.”
Pompeo’s comment drew condemnation from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said his administration would view all agreements with Israel and the United States as “completely canceled” if Israel annexes land in the West Bank.
“We have informed the relevant international parties, including the American and the Israeli governments, that we will not stand hand-cuffed if Israel announces the annexation of any part of our land,” Abbas said on Palestine TV.