King condemns Netanyahu pledge in call with Abbas

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RIYADH — The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman reiterated Saudi Arabia's condemnation and categorical rejection of the Israeli prime minister's pre-election pledge to annex part of the West Bank, in a phone call Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Battling to win re-election in Sept. 17 polls, Benjamin Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge on Tuesday to annex the strategic Jordan Valley, which accounts for around a third of the occupied West Bank.

He also repeated his intention to annex Israeli settlements in the wider West Bank, but in coordination with US President Donald Trump.

"The king reiterated... Saudi Arabia's condemnation and categorical rejection of the Israeli prime minister's declaration on his intention to annex lands from the West Bank," the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The King also said Netanyahu's pledge marked a "very dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people" and was a "flagrant violation" of UN and international laws, SPA added.

For his part, Abbas appreciated the keenness and care of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques on the Palestinian cause and Saudi Arabia's permanent and firm stances towards Palestine and its people in various regional and international summits and forums.

He praised the Kingdom's call for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at the level of foreign ministers to discuss this issue and review attitudes towards Israel to confront this declaration, take the necessary measures and draw up an urgent action plan towards it. He also praised the statement issued by the Kingdom and its position on clarifying things.

Netanyahu's moves could essentially destroy any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His pledge has drawn firm condemnation from the Palestinians, the United Nations, the European Union and Arab states. — AFP


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