MIDDLE EAST

Netanyahu announces post-election plan to annex part of occupied West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister issued a deeply controversial pledge on Tuesday to the in the occupied if re-elected in September 17 polls. "If I receive from you, citizens of , a clear mandate to do so ... today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern ," Netanyahu said in a televised speech.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention on Tuesday to the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he wins next week's general election.

"Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the and the northern Dead Sea," Netanyahu said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli TV channels.

Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political life in a closely-contested election, reaffirmed a pledge to annex all Jewish settlements throughout the , but said such a move would not be made before publication of a long-awaited U.S. peace plan and consultations with President Donald Trump.

There was no immediate comment from Washington.

Those moves could effectively kill any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long the focus of international diplomacy.

The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the West Bank and Israeli right-wing politicians have long viewed the strategic area as a part of the territory they would never retreat from.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in a statement issued shortly before Netanyahu spoke, amid reports of a possible annexation announcement, said that the Israeli leader is "a prime destroyer of the peace process".

The Jordan Valley, which Palestinians seek for the eastern perimeter of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stretches from the in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north. captured the West Bank in a 1967 war.

The 2,400 square kilometre (926.65 square mile) valley accounts for nearly 30 percent of the territory in the West Bank. Israel has long said it intends to maintain military control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

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 most of the Jordan Valley.

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