OIC convenes emergency FMs meet Sunday

Anger mounts at Netanyahu's West Bank annexation pledge

OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen said that the Israeli occupation government should be held accountable for the repercussions of this illegal declaration.

Saudi Gazette report

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold on Sunday, Sept. 15, an extraordinary meeting at the level of foreign ministers to discuss the dangerous escalation following the statement of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his move to annex West Bank territories.

This follows a request from Saudi Arabia, which chairs the current presidency of the pan Islamic body and hosts its headquarters, to hold an emergency session of OIC, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Saudi Arabia, including Arab and Muslim countries, on Wednesday led a wave of outcry after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex a key part of the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

The pre-election promise late Tuesday drew immediate condemnation from Arab powerhouses with many warning of disastrous consequences for the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Saudi Arabia condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement, describing the measure as "baseless," SPA reported early Wednesday, citing the Royal Court.

The OIC also called on all stakeholders to take urgent political and legal measures to address this aggressive position of Israel.

In a statement, OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen said that the Israeli occupation government should be held accountable for the repercussions of this illegal declaration, which would undermine any international efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in accordance with the vision of a two-state solution.

He called on all countries and international organizations to reject and condemn this provocative declaration, as well as to oblige Israel to stop all its unilateral actions as they are null and void and have no legal effect under international law and relevant UN resolutions.

Al-Othaimeen stressed the centrality of the Palestinian issue and the positions of OIC and its member countries, especially Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to preserve the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people in accordance with the international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative to establish a Palestinian state with borders as of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

A preparatory meeting of senior officials will precede the foreign ministerial level meeting.

Meanwhile, Arab foreign ministers too condemned the plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank as "aggression" undermining any chances of a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

The Arab League "considers his announcement a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law," Arab foreign ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Cairo.

"The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations," the statement said.

Arab foreign ministers had been holding a meeting in Cairo, seat of the Arab League, but added an emergency session after Netanyahu made his comments on live television.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Twitter called Netanyahu's plan a "serious escalation". Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have peace treaties with Israel.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote on Twitter that the Israeli leader was out to impose a "greater Israel on all of historical Palestine and (carry) out an ethnic cleansing agenda".

Damascus "strongly condemned" Netanyahu's vow, with a Syrian Foreign Ministry source telling the state news agency SANA that it was an "expansionist" plan which would be a "flagrant violation" of international treaties.

Beyond the Arab world, Turkey slammed Netanyahu pledge as "racist". It would "defend (the) rights and interests of our Palestinian brothers and sisters till the end," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The United Nations remonstrated that Netanyahu's plan would have no "international legal effect." Meanwhile, the European Union said the pledge undermines any prospects for peace.

"The policy of settlement construction and expansion... is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace," a EU spokesperson said in a statement. — with input from AFP