Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he has set a final date for launching annexation of the occupied West Bank and informed his right-wing Likud lawmakers he has no intention of postponing it, according to Israeli media reports.
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Netanyahu said that Israel will not miss what he called a "historic opportunity" to extend its sovereignty to Palestinian lands, calling the move one of his newly sworn-in government’s top priorities.
“We have an opportunity that hasn’t existed since 1948 to apply sovereignty in a wise way and as a diplomatic step in Judea and Samaria, and we will not let this opportunity pass,” the PM said, referring to the year Israel was established and using the biblical names for the West Bank.
“We have a target date in July to apply sovereignty and we will not change it,” Netanyahu later told the gathered member of Knesset (Parliament), during a part of the meeting that was closed to media, Israeli media reported.
The move would be coordinated with the United States, in accordance with the Middle East plan U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled in January, endorsing West Bank annexation.
Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” lets Israel impose sovereignty all the way to Jordan while Palestinians are granted a disjointed and demilitarised entity. The Palestinian state's capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the disputed city that would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.
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Palestinians, who seek a state which includes all of the West Bank, declared last week an end to security cooperation with Israel and the U.S.
Global organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, and a number of government leaders have also condemned Israel's annexation plans.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected Monday Israel's plans and gave his support to Palestinians in a video statement to U.S. Muslims on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
"We will not allow the Palestinian lands to be offered to anyone else. I would like to reiterate that Al Quds Al-Sharif, the holy site of three religions and our first kiblah, is a red line for all Muslims in the world," Erdogan said, referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name.
Palestinians and most countries view the settlements on land Israel took in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal. Israel and the U.S. under the administration of Trump dispute this.