Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday condemned as a “dangerous escalation” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected in September 17 polls.
“The kingdom affirms that this declaration is a very dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people and represents a flagrant violation of the UN charter and the principles of international law,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing the royal court.
Saudi Arabia also called for an “emergency meeting” of the foreign ministers of the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the SPA added.
Arab League reaction
Arab foreign ministers also condemned the plan as an “aggression” saying it undermines any chances of a peace settlement with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu said on Tuesday he planned to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank, if he wins a closely contested election just a week away.
Israel captured and occupied the West Bank in the 1967 war in a move never recognised by the international community.
Palestinians seek to make it part of a future state.
The Arab League “considers his announcement a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law,” Arab foreign ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Cairo.
“The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations,” the statement said.
Arab foreign ministers had been holding a meeting in Cairo, seat of the Arab League, but added an emergency session after Netanyahu made his comments on live television.
About Jordan Valley
Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli colonists live in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
The main Palestinian city is Jericho, with around 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Twitter called Netanyahu’s plan a “serious escalation”.
Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have peace treaties with Israel.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote on Twitter that the Israeli leader was out to impose a “greater Israel on all of historical Palestine and (carry) out an ethnic cleansing agenda”.
Fighting for his political life after an inconclusive election in April, Netanyahu also reaffirmed a pledge to annex all of the colonies Israel has established in the West Bank.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in early May that he hoped Israel would take a hard look at President Donald Trump’s upcoming Middle East peace proposal before “proceeding with any plan” to annex West Bank colonies.