Arab League slams Israeli plan to annex occupied West Bank

Top Arab diplomats urge US to withdraw support for Israel's plans to annex 'any part of the Palestinian territories'.

    Palestinians fear Al-Aqsa Mosque would be effectively under Israeli control [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
    Palestinians fear Al-Aqsa Mosque would be effectively under Israeli control [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

    The Arab League has condemned Israel's controversial proposal to annex much of the occupied West Bank, saying the move would constitute a "new war crime" against the Palestinians.

    The remarks came in a joint statement issued by Arab foreign ministers on Thursday following a virtual conference chaired in Egypt's capital, Cairo.

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    "The implementation of plans to annex any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including the Jordan Valley ... and the lands on which Israeli settlements are standing represents a new war crime ... against the Palestinian people," said the statement.

    The Arab League also urged the United States to "withdraw its support in enabling the plans of the occupying Israeli government".

    US President Donald Trump in January unveiled a controversial plan to resolve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Rejected by the Palestinians and condemned by much of the international community, the plan gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish settlements and other strategic territory in the West Bank.

    An Israeli coalition government agreement reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz last week includes a framework for implementing the annexations outlined in the plan. Such annexations would violate international law.

    During the Arab League meeting, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the annexation would "end the two-state solution".

    He said the move would "turn the battle from a political one to an endless religious war ... that will never bring about stability, security or peace to our region".

    Last week, the United Nations special Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said such a move would be a "devastating blow" to the internationally-backed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as the European Union said annexing Palestinian territory "would constitute a serious violation of international law".

    On Monday, the US said it was ready to recognise Israel's annexation of key parts of the West Bank, but also asked the new unity government to negotiate with the Palestinians.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies