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Arab League warns against Israel's West Bank settlements


Cairo: Dismissing a recent US decision recognising the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, the Arab League has warned Israel against annexing the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank.

Following a meeting at the Cairo-based Arab League on Monday, the Arab Foreign Ministers said in a joint resolution that the US decision is void, illegal, baseless and violates the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions, Xinhua reported.

Arab ministers warned that the US move poses a real threat to regional and international security, peace and stability.

On November 18, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US government will no longer consider Israel's West Bank settlements "inconsistent" with the international law, a move that may further dim the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Pompeo said at a press conference that the decision, which reversed the Barrack Obama administration's position on the issue, had been made based on the "reality on the ground".

After Pompeo's statements, the Palestinian Authority asked the Arab League to hold an emergency ministerial-level meeting to discuss and defy the US position on Israeli settlements.

Meanwhile, Arab ministers also said the US decision is meant to legalise and support Israel's settlement, "which may undermine the Arab peace initiative".

The Foreign Ministers warned against "exploiting the illegal cover provided by unilateral US decisions to encourage the Israeli government to ratify legislations aimed at annexing the Jordan Valley and parts of the occupied West Bank, intensifying settlement and Judaizing the occupied city of Jerusalem".

In September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex the Palestinian Jordan Valley and key parts of the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

The ministers called for mobilising Arab efforts and working with international partners to hold Israel accountable for its illegal settlement policy and practices.

The resolution adopted by the ministers urged Arab efforts to approach the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and demand an investigation into the crime of Israeli settlement in accordance with the Rome Statute.

After the meeting, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference that the Palestinian Authority would formally request Arab support for a meeting of the state parties to the Geneva Convention to hold Israel accountable for its actions against the Palestinians.

According to the Geneva Convention, al-Maliki said, the signatory countries are obliged to deal with violations against the people under occupation.

The US decision to legalize the settlements "is part of a war" the US government declared against the Palestinian people, he said, adding the recent US decision is the ninth anti-Palestine move taken by the US since 2017.

The Palestinian minister noted that the resolution adopted Monday by the Arab foreign ministers establishes a collective action led by Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul-Gheit to face and foil the US decision.

During the ministerial meeting, Aboul-Gheit described the US decision on Israeli settlement as a "very negative and regrettable shift in the American position".

"What the US government has done after three years of unilateral moves and tremendous pressure on the Palestinians is ending its role as a peace mediator or reference," he said.

Israeli settlement activity is considered one of the major issues that caused the collapse of the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis in 2014.

According to the latest Palestinian data, around 400,000 Israelis live in 135 settlements and 100 illegal outposts in the West Bank, where the Palestinian population has reached 2.6 million.

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