Arab League deems Israeli West Bank annexation a ‘new war crime’

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The Arab League said Thursday Israel’s controversial proposal to annex much of the West Bank constituted a “new war crime” against the Palestinians, during a virtual conference chaired in Cairo.

“The implementation of plans to annex any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including the Jordan Valley… and the lands on which Israeli settlements are standing represents a new war crime… against the Palestinian people,” Arab foreign ministers said in a joint statement.

The Arab League also urged the United States to “withdraw its support in enabling the plans of the occupying Israeli government”.

US President Donald Trump in January unveiled a controversial peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rejected by the Palestinians and condemned by much of the international community, the plan gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish settlements and other strategic territory in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli coalition government agreement reached last week includes a framework for implementing the annexations outlined in the plan.

Such annexations would violate international law and likely inflame tensions in the volatile region.

The Palestinians would be granted a sovereign but demilitarised state in the remaining parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, along with promises of major investment.

The Palestinian state’s capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the contested holy city, which would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.

Palestinians fear the Al-Aqsa Mosque and surrounding compound — Islam’s third holiest site — would be effectively under Israeli control.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki cautioned against the annexation during the Arab League meeting, saying it would “end the two-state solution”.

He said the move would “turn the battle from a political one to an endless religious war… that will never bring about stability, security or peace to our region”.

On Monday, the United States said it was ready to recognise Israel’s annexation of key parts of the West Bank, but also asked the new unity government to negotiate with the Palestinians.

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