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Israel's new government to promote West Bank annexation

By Steven Ford
Benjamin Netanyahu (C) has submitted coalition agreements ahead of his new government being sworn in, one of which promotes annexation in the West Bank. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
Benjamin Netanyahu (C) has submitted coalition agreements ahead of his new government being sworn in, one of which promotes annexation in the West Bank. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Ahead of Thursday's anticipated swearing in of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu's new government in Israel, an agreement submitted to the Knesset on Wednesday promotes annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas immediately criticized the coalition agreement formed between the Likud and the Religious Zionist Party, saying the new government is attempting to gain control in the West Bank -- a region it views as part of its eventual state territory.

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Section 118 of the agreement states, "The nation of Israel has a natural right to the Land of Israel." The section instructs the nation's prime minister to "formulate and promote policies within whose framework sovereignty will be applied to Judea and Samaria."

In promoting annexation, the agreement does not define the territorial borders, and it specifies that any annexation must be weighed against Israel's "national and international" interests.

However, the agreement states that the land slated for development includes the Galilee, the Negev and the Golan Heights, all of which are contained within Israel's sovereign borders.

And the new government's agreement also pledges to develop Judea and Samaria, which are outside Israel's sovereign borders and controlled by civilian and Israeli military.

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Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the agreement will create a "dangerous escalation" that will have "regional repercussions," according to comments published by the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Rudeineh urged the United States to address the matter to prove its commitment to a two-state resolution for the region, adding that there would be no security there without an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

After capturing east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Israel immediately applied sovereignty to the area and further strengthened its move in the region with a 1980 Knesset declaration. Palestinians and the international community, however, say east Jerusalem should be the future capital of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu submitted coalition agreements Wednesday, a day ahead of an expected Knesset vote to install the country's new political leaders.

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