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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

08 April, 2019, 08:57 | Author: Taylor George
  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that he would annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins another term in office, a last-minute pre-election promise likely to enrage Palestinians and the Arab world. His Likud party faces tough competition from the newly formed Kahol Lavan, or Blue and White, party led by former Israeli Defense Forces chief, Benny Gantz, who threatens to end Netanyahu's decade-long tenure.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, was Palestinian territory and Israel's occupation violated worldwide law.

"West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in violation of int'l law", Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.

An Israeli annexation of large parts of the West Bank is bound to snuff out any last flicker of hope for an Israeli-Palestinian deal on the terms of a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in 1967.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin criticized Netanyahu's political ambitions, noting that they are undermining the attempts to have a mutual solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Netanyahu said he informed Trump not "even one person" would be evicted from a settlement.

"I will apply [Israeli] sovereignty, but I don't distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements, because each settlement is Israeli and I will not hand it over to Palestinian sovereignty", he said in an interview on Channel 12 television.

"In order that there will be a Likud government, a right-wing government, you must only vote for Likud", the prime minister said. "Settlements are illegal and they will be removed".

In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met one-on-one with Bin Alawi at an global conference in Warsaw, attended by officials from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

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What is the political background?

But Netanyahu, who has fought the election campaign under the shadow of corruption allegations, is also competing for votes with far-right parties who advocate annexation.

Katz said Likud had to ensure it emerges as the biggest party, to put Netanyahu in the best position to get the nod from Israel's president to try to put together a governing coalition.

If, as expected, Netanyahu is picked to form the next government, he would be the longest serving prime minister in the country's history.

The Palestinians say the U.S. government's pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between them and Israel, while United States officials argue their plan will be fair.

He added that Palestinians would "resist" such a policy if carried out.

That followed his December 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to move the U.S. Embassy there.

On Saturday, Netanyahu boasted that Trump's recognition of Israel's claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights region - itself an unprecedented break with decades of USA policy - was proof that the US would back him and the West Bank annexation.

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