Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political life after an inconclusive vote in April, said on Tuesday Israel will “apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea immediately” if he secured a fifth term in the September 17 polls.
The Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea make up 30 percent of the West Bank. They lie in Area C, which means they are mostly under Israeli military and civil control.
Approximately 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israelis residing in illegal settlements live in that area, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. The main Palestinian city is Jericho, with about 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities.
After Netanyahu’s announcement, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo called his election promise a “dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law.” “The Arab League regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations.”
In a series of separate statements, Qatar criticised “Israel’s continued contempt of international law”; Turkey slammed the annexation pledge as “racist”; Jordan called Netanyahu’s plan a “serious escalation”; and Saudi Arabia called for an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The United Nations, meanwhile, warned that Netanyahu’s plan would have “no international legal effect”.