Arab League condemns Israel’s plan to extend sovereignty to parts of West Bank

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Arab countries condemned Israel’s plan to de facto annex parts of the occupied West Bank as “a new war crime” against Palestinians, the Arab League said in a statement after a video conference meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in announcing a deal to form a unity government, has set July 1 for the start of cabinet discussions on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and annexing outright the area’s Jordan Valley.

Palestinians have expressed outrage at Israel’s plans to cement its hold further on land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war, territory they are seeking for a state.

Read more: UN warns Israel not to annex parts of occupied West Bank

Arab League chief Ahmed Ahmed Aboul Gheit had last week sent a message to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warning against Israel's plans saying they risk “igniting tension in the region”.

He also accused Israel of “exploiting the world's preoccupation with the novel coronavirus to impose a new reality on the ground”.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and has since extended its control by expanding its settlements there.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a decision regarding the annexation of West Bank territories was up to Israel's new unity government.

Earlier this year, the US unveiled a controversial Middle East peace plan that would allow Israel to retain control of the contested city of Jerusalem as its “undivided capital” and annex Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands including in the West Bank.

Arab states rejected Trump's plan, saying it favored Israel and failed to grant Palestinians their minimum rights.

The Palestinians as well as the European Union have likewise criticized the plan, saying it effectively closes the door to a two-state solution in the Middle East.

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