Palestinians say Netanyahu's Jordan Valley annexation bid 'destroys all chances of peace'
A senior Palestinian official said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to annex the Jordan Valley if re-elected destroyed all chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
"He is not only destroying the two-state solution, he is destroying all chances of peace," senior official Hanan Ashrawi told AFP.
"This is a total game changer."
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the annexation would be "manifestly illegal".
He called on the international community to "act now to prevent Netanyahu and his allies from burying any remaining prospects for peace".
Earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley, a strategically important part of the occupied West Bank, if he were re-elected on September 17.
He also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected, saying it would be done in coordination with US President Donald Trump but without giving a time frame.
The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the West Bank and Israeli right-wing politicians have long viewed the area as a part of the territory they would never retreat from.
Israeli settlements are located in what is known as Area C of the West Bank, which accounts for some 60 percent of the territory, including the vast majority of the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu said his annexation plans would not include Palestinian cities, such as the Jordan Valley's Jericho.
Ashrawi said the move, which would leave the Palestinian government with self-rule over a number of cities in the West Bank, was "worse than apartheid".
"He is trying to take the land without the people and saying you are free to leave," she added.
"In every (Israeli) election we pay the price, with our rights, with our lands."
A spokesman for Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas accused Netanyahu of seeking "right-wing votes by selling the illusion to his public that he can occupy Palestinian land forever."
Separately, a senior Hamas official Bassem Naim predicted it could "lead to an explosion".
The comments came as Turkey on Tuesday also slammed the controversial pledge.
"The election promise of Netanyahu, who is giving all kind of illegal, unlawful and aggressive messages before the election, is a racist apartheid state," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on his official Twitter account in both English and Turkish.
"Will defend rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers&sisters till the end," he added.
Meanwhile, the United Nations warned Netanyahu that his plan to annex the Jordan Valley would have no "international legal effect."
"The secretary-general's position has always been clear: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
"Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect," the spokesman added.
"Such a prospect would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace, and the very essence of a two-state solution."
Governments of Israel have long claimed that the Jordan Valley was part of the country and that they would never relinquish control over it.
The valley was conquered by Israel during the war in 1967, and since then has mostly been under its military and administrative control.
Israel has always maintained that it cannot give it up for reasons of security.
According to human rights group B'Tselem, the northern Dead Sea and the Jordan valley "constitute almost 30 percent of the West Bank. Nearly 65,000 Palestinians and some 11,000 [Israeli] settlers live there".
Despite Israel's currently occupation of the region, a formal annexation would lead to Israel's complete control over the region, spelling disaster for the Palestinians that currently live there and would be a further major blow to the viability of a Palestinian state.
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