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Palestinian Authority to declare new state if Israel annexes in West Bank

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh speaks to reporters Tuesday at his office in Ramallah, West Bank. He said the Palestinian Authority will formally declare a Palestinian state if Israel follows through with promises to annex part of the West Bank. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh speaks to reporters Tuesday at his office in Ramallah, West Bank. He said the Palestinian Authority will formally declare a Palestinian state if Israel follows through with promises to annex part of the West Bank. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

June 9 (UPI) -- Officials said Tuesday the Palestinian Authority will declare a new Palestinian state based on lines that were drawn before the Six-Day War in the 1960s, if Israel goes through with plans to annex part of the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz both vowed during their election campaigns to annex parts of the West Bank. The two ultimately formed a unity government and are actively moving toward annexation.

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Tuesday, PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said the response to such a move will be to draw up a dedicated Palestinian state and ask for official recognition from the international community.

"We are facing the moment of truth," he told reporters in Ramallah. "Nowhere on Earth can we live with this annexation.

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"If Israel goes to annexation, it is a different day for us. Annexation is an existential threat to our future."

Palestinian officials said they plan to take take several steps toward statehood, including cutting salaries and funding in the Gaza Strip.

"We are not nihilists or fools, and we don't want chaos," said Hussein al-Sheikh, an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. "We are pragmatic.

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"We don't want things to reach a point of no return. Annexation means no return in the relationship with Israel."

Israeli officials have said they plan to begin the annexation process next month.

"If you ask Palestinians, 'What do you want?,' some will tell you two states, some will tell you one," Shtayyeh added.

"Maybe there are different points of view. But there is no difference in point of view when it comes to one single thing, end of occupation. That is what the people want."

Shtayyeh said a Palestinian state would be based on armistice lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War, which was fought between Israel and Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. After victory, Israel began occupying the Gaza Strip, West Bank and the Golan Heights, including East Jerusalem.

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