UN Envoy Warns Israeli Leaders Annexation ‘Would Be a Devastating Blow’ to Peace Prospects

Annexing parts of the West Bank, which both Netanyahu and Gantz have promised, would harm potential of reviving Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, regional peace, Mladenov says

Noa Landau
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UN Mideast Envoy Nickolay Mladenov meets with President Reuven Rivlin, April 3, 2019.
UN Mideast Envoy Nickolay Mladenov meets with President Reuven Rivlin, April 3, 2019.Credit: Mark Neiman / GPO
Noa Landau

The UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned on Wednesday that Israel's plan to annex "some or all of Area C in the West Bank" would be a "devastating blow" to potential Israel-Palestinian negotiations and the prospect of regional peace.

Linking to a UN Security Council briefing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the declining peace process, Mladenov tweeted, "The annexation of some or all of Area C in the West Bank, if implemented, would deal a devastating blow to the potential of reviving Israeli Palestinian negotiations, advancing regional peace, the essence of the two-state solution."

On Tuesday, Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz echoed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial promise to annex the Jordan Valley after the March 2 election.  Speaking during a tour of the region, Gantz said "The Jordan Valley is Israel's eastern defensive barrier in any future conflict. Israeli governments that spoke of the possibility of returning the area [to Jordanian control] were making a grave strategic and security mistake, and we see this strip of land as an inseparable part of the State of Israel."

Shortly after, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will soon be extending its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area. Speaking at a Jerusalem campaign event, he said, “Not only will we not uproot anyone, we will apply Israeli law to all Israeli communities without exception.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Gantz's announcement, saying it will eradicate the foundations on which the political process is built, and put the entire region into a dangerous new phase of instability.

Hamas warned Wedensday that the Israeli politicians' remarks could lead to reactions by "resistance forces in the West Bank."

Israeli left-wing leaders also decried Gantz's remarks, saying that he fell into "the right's trap." Labor-Gesher-Meretz chairman Amir Peretz, speaking at an election rally in Be’er Sheva, said that Gantz's Kahol Lavan might "jump into the arms of the far-right" if the left-wing slate doesn't get enough votes. He also stressed that the matter of annexation "should be decided in negotiations and as part of a comprehensive agreement."