September 11, 2019 / 1:05 PM / a month ago

Netanyahu's West Bank pledge alarms Middle Eastern states

CAIRO (Reuters) - Middle Eastern nations have expressed alarm at a plan by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex parts of the occupied West Bank if he wins a closely contested election less than a week away.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, Israel September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Netanyahu said on Tuesday he would annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank that Israel captured in 1967 and which Palestinians want as part of a future state.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, on Twitter:

“Killing all chances for peace for electoral purposes is irresponsible, dangerous. International community must state it rejects such futile attempts to consolidate occupation.”

The Jordanian cabinet also met on Wednesday and warned the move would have “disastrous consequences over the future of peace and the security of the region and its stability” and would “deepen the cycle of violence.”

Arab League statement:

The Arab League “considers his announcement a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law.”

“The League regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process, and they will torpedo all its foundations.”

Bahrain foreign ministry statement:

“This announcement represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and reflects a determination to not reach just and comprehensive peace.”

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, on Twitter:

“There can be no peace in the region without a just and lasting solution in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy. We reject the continued encroachment of the occupier on the Palestinian people and assert our firm stance towards this issue, as we stand committed to our brothers in the Arab countries who agree with us.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Twitter:

“The election promise of Netanyahu, who is giving all kind of illegal, unlawful and aggressive messages before the election, is a racist apartheid state. Will defend rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers&sisters till the end.”

Syrian foreign ministry source, cited on state media:

“The current Arab situation enabled the occupying entity to press ahead with its aggression ... And some of the Arabs who pounce upon and promote normalization for free with this entity bear historic responsibility.”

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group:

“This decision is aggression against the Palestinian people who have the full right to resist any attack on their land and their resources. This comes after a serous of stances by Gulf states that are supportive of the enemy entity.”

“All of Palestinian soil is the right of the Palestinian people and this right will not change whatever the enemy does.”

Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, on Twitter:

“Historical Palestine disappears day after day to the beat of confiscation decisions, from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley ... And all of this is happening a hundred years after Sykes-Picot and the Balfour promise.”

Lebanese columnist Rajeh al-Khoury:

“Netanyahu’s announcement comes in the context of a tough electoral battle he is waging. And all the escalation - the strikes in Iraq and on Iranian centres in Syria and even the operations that happened in Lebanon - they are all a show of force, to say I’m the protector of Israel and I’m the strong one.”

“Unfortunately, this is all happening when the Arab world is in a state of unprecedented collapse and disintegration ... I don’t think there is anyone at all who can do anything, it’s all talk.”

Azzam Huneidi, deputy head of Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood: 

“It’s a blow to the so-called peace process that is from start to finish now over because the Israeli entity does not want peace or to give up any inch of territory that was occupied in 1967 ... The only solution is to support resistance and stopping any security cooperation with the Jews and if there is resistance there will be no Israel after that.”

Majed al Ansari, analyst at Qatar University:

“Anyone thinking of mediating into a new deal through the Americans or through any kind of mediation whether through Qatar or any other country is now hampered by this decision. It’s very clear from the Israeli side there is no interest in any kind of peace deal ... at the moment (they) are content with simply cutting away at the Palestinian lands.”

Emirati political scientist Abdulkhaleq Abdulla:

“Israel is today reaching out to the Gulf more so than the Gulf reaching out to the Israelis, and Israel has a lot to offer to some of them especially now that we have this huge challenge, or threat called Iran. So as along as Iran is there, Israel will make itself palatable to the Arab Gulf states.”

David Makovsky, director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, on Twitter: “Netanyahu’s comments on large-annexation makes disentangling populations impossible and thus doom Israel to be 1 state for 2 peoples. If really annexes all settlements and not just done to coopt msg of parties to his right, cripples Israel’s mission as a Jewish/democratic state.”

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Eric Knecht, Ghaida Ghantous, Stephen Kalin, Alexander Cornwell, Ali Kucukgocmen and Asma Alsharif; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Lisa Shumaker

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