Arab League: Israeli annexation could ignite a religious war

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The head of the Arab League warned a high-level UN meeting on Wednesday that Israel's annexation of parts of the West Bank would create tensions and jeopardize peace in the Middle East and “could trigger a religious war at home and abroad Region. "
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, general secretary of the 22-member organization, said the annexation would also "have a wider impact on international security around the world".
"If implemented, Israeli annexation plans would not only affect today's chances for peace, but also destroy all prospects for peace in the future," he told the Security Council. "The Palestinians will lose confidence in a negotiated solution. I fear that the Arabs will also lose interest in regional peace." Given this conflict and the entire region, a new dark reality will emerge. "
The council meeting took place days before the date of July 1, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition agreement allowed an annexation plan to be presented.
Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan in the Middle East War in 1967 and built dozens of settlements that now house nearly 500,000 Israelis. However, due to the strong international opposition, it has never officially claimed it as an Israeli territory.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon told the Council: "Should Israel decide to expand its sovereignty, it would do so in areas for which it has always made a legitimate historical and legal claim."
The Palestinians, with broad international support, are looking for the West Bank as the heartland of their future independent state. The majority of the international community considers Israel's settlements in the West Bank to be illegal under international law.
Secretary-General of the United States, Antonio Guterres, opened the meeting with an appeal to Israel to abandon its annexation plans. This was repeated by almost all the other speakers, including half a dozen ministers and deputy ministers.
The head of the United States said the annexation "would be a serious violation of international law, would seriously affect the prospect of a two-state solution, and would undermine the possibility of renewing the negotiations."
Guterres urged the United States, the European Union and Russia to quickly act as mediators together with the United Nations as part of the so-called Quartet and to find a mutually acceptable framework in which the parties can get involved again without preconditions, we and other key states. "
He also urged the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "commit to meaningful dialogue with the support of the international community". And he encouraged regional and international advocates of a two-state solution to put the parties back on a "path to a negotiated, peaceful solution."
EU foreign policy official Josep Borrell supported the quartet's action in a letter he received from AP to the Security Council, in which he also said "unilateral annexation would inevitably have legal ramifications for the international community's relations with Israel." A joint statement by six current and future European Security Council members states: "The annexation would have consequences for our close relationship with Israel and would not be recognized by us."
In response to the impending annexation, the Palestinian leadership has freed itself of all agreements and arrangements with Israel and the United States and has closed all contacts. Nickolay Mladenov, the United States special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, warned the council that "this decision has had and will continue to have a dramatic impact on all aspects of Palestinian daily life."
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh Al-Malki said: "We will stop acting as the Palestinian Authority" as soon as Netanyahu declares "the annexation of one centimeter or 30 percent of the West Bank".
This means that full responsibility for the welfare and services of 4.5 million Palestinians will be returned to Israel as an occupying power under the Geneva Conventions, he told the council and a subsequent press conference.
The United States is Israel's closest ally, and President Donald Trump's government has taken a much softer line towards Israeli settlements than its predecessors.
Trump's Middle East plan, which was unveiled in January, envisages leaving around 30% of the West Bank under constant Israeli control and giving the Palestinians in the rest of the area more autonomy. The Palestinians rejected the plan and said it was wrongly biased against Israel.
With Trump's prospects of re-election in November uncertain, the Israeli hardliners have urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to move ahead with the annexation quickly.
Al-Malki said that discussions on the annexation issue had taken place in the White House in the past two days.
"Everyone knows that if there is someone who could really prevent Netanyahu from annexation ... it is the Trump administration," he said. "We hope that the Trump administration will give Netanyahu clear instructions not to continue the annexation and to open the possibility of a possible resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis."
Senior Palestinian officials gathered in the Jordan Valley on Wednesday. The Prime Minister called "the loudest voice" to the international community, as well as to US and Israeli officials, to stop the Israeli plan.
"Some say annexation. Some say complete annexation. We will not accept annexation, ”said Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. "We won't give an inch of his country."
US Ambassador Kelly Craft said many council members "are concerned about the possible expansion of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank."
"At the same time, we ask that you also hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for actions they are responsible for," she said. Craft urged the Palestinian leaders to take a close look at Trump's plan and engage us, and stressed that it was an opening offer.

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