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Mike Pompeo's comments were condemned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said his administration would view agreements with Israel and the U.S. as null if Israel goes on with its annexation plans.
United States (U.S.) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that it was up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank adding that Washington would offer its views privately to Israel’s new government.
“As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s an Israeli decision. And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in (a) private setting.”
The deal between Israel’s PM and his former opponent ended a year-long political deadlock in which the country was forced to hold three elections.
The new coalition agreement states that plans to annex the Jordan Valley and illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank could move on starting July 1 under the condition of Washington’s approval.
Israel already has military control over Palestinian territories it had seized after the 1967 war. The move, which is in total defy of international law, would mean a de-facto annexation.
U.S. secretary of state comments were condemned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said his administration would view agreements with Israel and the U.S. as null if Israel goes on with its annexation plans.
Israeli rights group B'Tselem also denounced Pompeo's comments.
"De-facto annexation and the reality of Apartheid are not waiting for July 1: they have long since arrived," the group said Wednesday in a statement, urging the international community to "take action against the reality already in place."
Liberal U.S. Jewish organization J Street, which presents itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace, also warned the Israeli government against its annexation plans.
"Any annexation would be carried out with the deliberate intention of preventing the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," J Street said Monday in a statement.
"It would be disastrous for Israel's interests as well as a gross violation of Palestinian rights."
Jewish settlements in the West Bank and their acquisition by force are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention that bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its civilian population to occupied territory. But Israel disagrees citing security needs and biblical, historical, and political connections to the land.
Late in 2016, the United Nations Security Council declared that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are a "flagrant violation under international law."
In total disregard with international consensus, U.S. President Donald Trump -a close ally to Netanyahu- has been enforcing pro-Israel policies over the past three years.
The White House has moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, and declared that West Bank settlements are not illegal.
In January, Trump unveiled his “deal of the century,” an alleged “peace” plan that was embraced by Israel and rejected by the Palestinians for awarding the Jewish state most of what it has sought during decades of conflict, including nearly all the occupied land that Palestinians view as parts of their future state.