Jordan's King Abdullah warns Israel annexation would jeopardise regional peace

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Jordan's King Abdullah warned on Monday that any unilateral Israeli moves to annex territory in the occupied West Bank would fuel instability in the Middle East as tension mounts over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to extend Israeli sovereignty.

The monarch told British legislators the only path to a comprehensive and lasting Middle East peace was the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.

"Any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable, as it would undermine the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the Middle East," the monarch told British committee members in a virtual meeting, a palace statement said.

Jordan has led a diplomatic campaign along with most other European countries that oppose Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank as part of a deal being promoted by US President Donald ’s administration.

King Abdullah, a staunch US ally, has also in recent months warned that Israeli policies along with Mr Trump's so-called peace plan would lead to conflict and deal a blow to Israeli-Jordanian relations.

In May, King Abdullah warned that West Bank annexation would put the two nations on course for a “massive conflict.” Jordan is only the second Arab country after Egypt to sign a peace treaty with Israel and many of its citizens are of Palestinian origin.

People wearing face masks protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to annex parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 6, 2020. Reuters

People wearing face masks protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to annex parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 6, 2020. Reuters

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. AFP

A woman holds up a sign with the Palestinian flag, a Black Power fist and the slogan 'Resist Apartheid' as Jewish and Arab Israelis protest against US President Donald Trump's 'peace plan' for the Middle East as they march in Tel Aviv, Israel, in June 2020. EPA

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to forge ahead with annexing settlements and the Jordan Valley, in line with the peace proposals unveiled by US President Donald Trump. AFP

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's move to annex parts of the occupied West Bank amid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vow to forge ahead with US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan. AFP

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to forge ahead with President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan. AFP

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. AFP

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. AFP

Protesters gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank amid Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to forge ahead with the illegal move. AFP

Jewish and Arab Israelis protest against US President Donald Trump's 'peace plan' for the Middle East conflict as they march in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 6, 2020. EPA

Amman lost the occupied West Bank, as well as occupied East Jerusalem, to Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and Israeli settlements have been encroaching on the territories ever since.

Most of the world recognises these settlements as illegal and global leaders have called on Mr Netanyahu to pull back from the annexation plan, which he had threatened to launch on July 1.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the possible move as a “violation of international law” in an article published in an Israeli newspaper last month and the EU, UN and Arab rulers have called on the Israeli government to refrain from implementing a plan that would further inflame tension in the region.

Between 2.1 million and 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, which is also home to about 430,000 Israeli Jews living in the settlements.

Under the terms of the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan unveiled in January, Washington recognises these settlements in the occupied West Bank – built on land the Palestinians seek for a state – as part of Israel.

The US proposal seeks to bring about 30 per cent of the West Bank under permanent Israeli control and has been vehemently rejected by Palestinians, who would be left with enclaves surrounded by occupied territory.

Most of the international community supports a two-state solution, which envisions an independent Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with agreed land swaps. The Palestinians, who claim a historic right to this land, also want occupied East Jerusalem as their capital, but the future of Jerusalem is considered a final status issue to be decided in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Mr Netanyahu's deadline on July passed without incident, prompting speculation over whether Israel will push ahead with the initiative. But Israeli cabinet minister Ofir Akunis told Israel’s Army Radio a few days later that officials were still finalising details with Washington and expected the annexation to go ahead later this month.

Updated: July 14, 2020 12:22 PM

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