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Irish political parties condemn Netanyahu's pledge to annex West Bank territory

Tánaiste Simon Coveney described the move as a “dangerous political commitment”.

Updated Sep 11th 2019, 5:30 PM

IRISH POLITICAL PARTIES have condemned Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected in 17 September polls.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Netanyahu’s pledge “may be dismissed by some as reckless electioneering” but warned “this dangerous political commitment must be challenged and rejected as totally unacceptable and illegal by [the] international community.”

“There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the elections,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech yesterday. 

“If I receive from you, citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do so…today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.”

The prime minister also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if re-elected in coordination with US President Donald Trump, whose long-awaited peace plan is expected to be unveiled sometime after the vote.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Niall Collins TD, meanwhile, criticised Netanyahu’s plan.

“I condemn the announcement by Benjamin Netanyahu to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected as Prime Minister of Israel. It is evident that Mr Netanyahu is putting his re-election ahead of the peace process,” he said. 

“This is deeply disappointing and underscores that Mr Netanyahu’s is more concerned with electoral gain than actually finding a sustainable and long-lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East,” Collins added. 

Earlier today, Israel bombed Hamas positions in Gaza overnight in retaliation for rocket fire across the border, which cut short an election rally by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu was hustled off stage when sirens warning of incoming rockets blared in the southern city of Ashdod last night, public television reported.

It came just hours after the premier pledged to annex the Jordan Valley.

Israeli fighter jets “struck 15 terror targets in northern and central Gaza Strip,” including a weapons factory, an attack tunnel and naval targets, the army said.

It said it would continue to hold Hamas responsible for all rocket fire that comes from the Gaza Strip, regardless of who actually fired the weapons. 

A security source in Gaza confirmed a number of Hamas bases had been struck, without causing any casualties. 

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Both rockets fired from Gaza were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system.

Islamists Hamas have been the de facto rulers of Gaza since they ousted forces loyal to president Mahmud Abbas in deadly fighting in 2007.

Video distributed by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party showed him returning to the stage after the all-clear and saying that Hamas was scared of him winning next Tuesday’s general election.

“If it attacks us on live TV, you understand that it doesn’t want us here,” he told his audience.

Arch-foes Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008. 

With reporting from - © AFP 2019 

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