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All agreements off if Israel annexes territory: Palestine President Mahmud Abbas warns at United Nations

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP United Nations, United States Sep 27, 2019, 05.46 AM (IST)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told the United Nations Thursday he would terminate all signed agreements with Israel if it moved forward with plans announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex a key part of the West Bank.

Netanyahu, who is trying to form a new government following a deadlocked election, pledged before the vote to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea which account for one-third of the West Bank.

The promise was widely condemned, including by UN chief Antonio Guterres who warned it would violate international law.

"Our response, if any Israeli government is to proceed with this plan, is that all signed agreements with the government of the occupation and any obligations therein will be terminated," said Abbas.

"And it is our right to defend our rights by all possible means, regardless of consequences, while remaining committed to international law and combating terrorism," he warned.

Abbas made a similar vow in July, but did not follow through.

In the early 1990s, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, then headed by Yasser Arafat, signed a number of peace agreements under US sponsorship.

The agreements were supposed to be for a transitional five-year period, but a longer-term deal proved elusive and a second bloody Palestinian intifada, or uprising, broke out in 2000.

Abbas, 84, also renewed a pledge to hold fresh parliamentary elections, which last took place in 2006.

Those elections, which were surprisingly won by Islamist movement Hamas, eventually led to a dramatic split, with Hamas seizing control of Gaza in 2007.

"Upon my return to the homeland, I will call for regular local elections in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, and anyone who opposes these elections will be held accountable before God and the international community," said Abbas, likely referencing Hamas.

Abbas has made similar promises before, most recently in December 2018 Abbas when he said he would hold parliamentary elections within six months.

Israel's foreign minister Israel Katz later told the assembly his country "wants peace with all its neighbors."

He added: "We call on the Palestinian Authority to stop incitement. To stop encouraging and financing terrorism. And to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state."

Katz also called on the Palestinians to come back to direct negotiations "without any pre-conditions."

Story highlights

Netanyahu pledged before the vote to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea which account for one-third of the West Bank.