Benjamin Netanyahu condemned for settlement annexation pledge
Palestinians say international ‘impunity’ must end for Israel's actions
Palestinian leaders have led a chorus of condemnation after Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu controversially announced he plans to annex settlements in the West Bank if he is re-elected on Tuesday.
Asked on television why he had yet to extend sovereignty to large West Bank settlements, the Israeli prime minister replied: “Who says that we won't do it? We are on the way and we are discussing it.
“You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage - the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, said Israel will “continue to brazenly violate international law” for as long as “the international community will continue to reward Israel with impunity”.
Erekat, a close aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, pinpointed Donald Trump’s “support and endorsement of Israel's violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine”.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas's Palestinian Authority must halt its security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank. Speaking from Gaza, he said: “Netanyahu's dreams of annexing the West Bank will never be achieved and we will not allow that to happen.”
Settlements are regarded as one of the most divisive obstacles on the road to peace in the region. More than 400,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank, according to Israeli figures, among about 2.9m Palestinians.
Many countries consider settlements to be illegal under the Geneva conventions.
Commentators are interpreting Netanyahu’s statement as a bid to capture the right-wing vote ahead of tomorrow’s general election. The BBC’s Arab affairs editor, Sebastian Usher, wrote that the “potentially explosive” comments “will resonate with several parties with which he'll try to form a coalition government if he wins the biggest share of votes”.
Netanyahu is facing “a tight race” for re-election, The Observer says, but “with support from smaller pro-settlement, far-right and ultranationalist parties”, he may have a “better chance of forming a coalition government”.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called Netanyahu a “racist” on Sunday.
Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for Turkish President Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, was one of the first global figures to respond, saying western states must condemn Netanyahu’s words. “Will western democracies react or will they keep appeasing? Shame on them all!” he asked on Sunday.