The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has censured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex areas of the occupied West Bank as an election promise that is part of Israel broader plans to change the identity of Palestine.
Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of the OIC in Jeddah on Sunday, Yousef bin Ahmad al-Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the organization, condemned Netanyahu’s recent decision, referring to the plan as part of Israel’s continued attempts to change the historical identity of Palestine.
He noted that the extraordinary meeting of OIC indicates the centrality of the Palestinian cause, describing Netanyahu’s recent announcement as an “irresponsible” move that exposes Israel’s systematic settlement policy.
Netanyahu on Tuesday promised to annex parts of occupied land in the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea, if he wins the September 17 general elections. The plan drew sharp criticism from the Palestinians as well as countries in the Middle East, including Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The 69-year-old Chairman of the Likud-National Liberal Movement also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected, and in coordination with US President Donald Trump.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
The OIC chief stressed that the Israeli “aggressive” plan violates the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, adding: “We affirm our utter rejection of the Israeli government’s aggression against the sovereignty of the Arab territories.”
The OIC also asked the international community to put an end to Israel’s “aggressive” policies against the Palestinian people.
Othaimeen stressed that “there is no peace in the Middle East without finding a just solution to the Palestinian cause.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki told the meeting that Netanyahu’s latest move was the latest in a string of “provocative threats”
“After repeated and provocative threats to annex the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including those that are ravaging the heart and soul of the Holy Land, the seriousness of which we warned against again and again, the Israeli prime minister issued another new and serious threat on September 10 when he announced his intention to enforce Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank and to annex it if he was re-elected,” Maliki said.
“He referred to the region as the eastern border of Israel and promised that this process would be offered to annex all illegal settlements in the West Bank,” the Palestinian minister added.
Maliki also urged OIC members to act together to ensure the implementation of international resolutions regarding the so-called peace process.
“We must work collectively and united at all international levels and with the international community to push them to shoulder their responsibilities and implement the international will, represented in the criteria of a just and lasting solution in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative,” he added.
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, in a move never recognized by the international community.
The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the West Bank. Israeli right-wing politicians have long viewed the 2,400-square kilometer (926.65-square mile) strategic area as a part of the territory they would never retreat from and stated that the Israeli military would maintain its control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.