Netanyahu's cabinet approves new settlement ahead of elections

  16 September 2019    Read: 1168

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday reiterated his pledge to build a new settlement in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, amid a last-ditch drive to galvanize his nationalistic base.

Netanyahu's cabinet yesterday approved a proposal to retroactively legalize the small West Bank outpost of Mevo'ot Yeriho, a remote community on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Jericho in the Jordan Valley. In an open letter in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Netanyahu said that with President Donald Trump planning to unveil his much-awaited Mideast peace plan, the conditions have "ripened" to apply sovereignty to all "settlements and areas of strategic and national importance" in West Bank.

Netanyahu has repeatedly promised that Jewish West Bank settlements will be "part of the state of Israel" and that none will be evacuated in any kind of agreement with the Palestinians. It's a pledge that has become central to his second election campaign of 2019, following his failure to form a ruling coalition after April's elections.

Palestinians have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous state. More than 400,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements, while a further 200,000 live in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem over which Israel has already unilaterally imposed full sovereignty. The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory, and Palestinians are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote.

Turkey lambasts Netanyahu over annexation remarks

Netanyahu's announcement of his intention to annex areas of the West Bank following tomorrow's elections show Israel is becoming a "racist, apartheid regime," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying yesterday. Turkey, the Arab League and European countries said they were concerned by Netanyahu's annexation statement, with the U.N. secretary-general's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said an annexation plan would violate international law.

On Saturday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) would convene in Jeddah on Sunday to discuss Netanyahu's statement. Speaking in Jeddah, Çavuşoğlu said Netanyahu's "embarrassing" plan was a "despicable" attempt to earn votes ahead of Tuesday's election, and criticized what he called a lack of reaction from other Muslim countries.

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