Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s said he will annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank if re-elected while Turkey strongly reacted to those remarks.

A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 7, 2019.
A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 7, 2019. (Reuters)

Israel has approved the construction of 770 new housing units in the illegal settlement west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex the occupied West Bank if he wins the general election which is slated for April 9.

He said in an interview with Israeli television: “We will ensure that we are in charge on the ground. And we will impose sovereignty over the settlements in Judea and Samaria [West Bank].” 

Palestinian reaction

Israel's leader will face a "real problem" if he follows through with his election campaign promise to annex Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian foreign minister said Sunday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Riyad al-Maliki said Netanyahu's pledge was likely aimed at rallying his nationalist base in the final stretch of a tight race.

He added that Palestinians would "resist" such a policy if carried out.

"If Netanyahu wants to declare Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, then you know he has to face a real problem, the presence of 4.5 million Palestinians, what to do with them," Maliki said, referring to the combined Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

Maliki also accused the US of encouraging Netanyahu by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and, more recently, recognising Israel's 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights.

Roughly 650,000 Jewish settlers currently live on more than 100 settlements in the illegally-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.   

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.  

The Palestinians, for their part, want both these territories, along with Gaza, for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

Turkey slams Netanyahu's remarks 

Turkey’s top officials on Sunday slammed Netanyahu’s remarks.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the West Bank is a “Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in violation of international law,” he wrote on Twitter. 

“Netanyahu’s irresponsible statement to seek votes just before the Israeli general elections cannot and will not change this fact,” Cavusoglu said. 

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter: “Yet another example of how Netanyahu uses electoral politics to justify occupation and undermine the two-state solution.”

“If he is re-elected, will this be a triumph of ‘democracy’ or occupation?” Kalin asked.   

“Will western democracies react or will they keep appeasing?” he said, adding: “Shame on them all!”

Source: AA