Saudi Arabia leads condemnation of West Bank land grab by Netanyahu

The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Saudi Arabia leads condemnation of West Bank land grab by Netanyahu

  • Royal Court comes to defense of ‘inalienable and protected rights of the Palestinian people’

JERUSALEM: Saudi Arabia led a chorus of international condemnation on Wednesday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to annex the Jordan Valley.

The Kingdom said there was “no peace without the return of the occupied Palestinian territories,” and called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.

“The Arab and Islamic worlds’ preoccupation with many local and regional crises will not affect the status of the Palestinian cause,” the Saudi Royal Court said.

“Israel’s attempts to impose a fait-accompli policy will not obliterate the inalienable and protected rights of the Palestinian people.”

Netanyahu’s pledge, widely viewed as an attempt to attract hard-line right-wing votes in next week’s Israeli elections, was also condemned by the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN, the EU, Jordan, Turkey and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

In a televised speech, Netanyahu said he would annex the valley and land north of the Dead Sea, about a third of the occupied West Bank, and also annex other Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This would effectively end the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Such a prospect would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution.”

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Nabil Shaath, senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Arab News it would be a mistake to dismiss Netanyahu’s plan as an electioneering gimmick.

“While this is not new to Netanyahu, it is important to know that he is not different from his opponents,” Shaath said. “They want the land without the people.”

A “unified effort and effective strategy” were required to combat this, Shaath said. “We need the Arab world, Muslim countries, Europe and others to stand with us to stop this effort at destroying the two-state solution.”

Palestinians in the Jordan Valley said on Wednesday they had been rooted to the land for generations, and would never give it up.

“We tell Netanyahu, and whoever follows him, you will not break the Palestinians’ will, you will never break our will, never, never,” said Hassan Al-Abedi, 55, a farmer in the village of Jiftlik. “It is our parents’ and grandparents’ land. We will hold on to it no matter what it costs.”

Ismael Hassan, 75, from the village of Zbeidat, said: “This is not Netanyahu’s land to give.  This land is for Palestine, for the Palestinians.”


Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

Updated 15 September 2019

Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

ALGIERS: Algeria — whose president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following mass protests — is to hold a presidential election on December 12, his interim successor announced Sunday.

"I have decided... that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12," said Abdelkader Bensalah, who is precluded from standing himself, in a televised address.

The announcement comes after army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, seen as the strongman in Algeria since the fall of Bouteflika, insisted that polls be held by the end of this year, despite ongoing protests demanding the creation of new institutions ahead of any elections.