U.S-Mike Pompeo: Annexation of occupied West Bank ‘an Israeli decision’

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday it was up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank and said that Washington would offer its views privately to Israel’s new government, drawing a warning from Palestinians who vowed not to “stand handcuffed” if Israel formally took their land.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Pompeo welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief political rival Benny Gantz’s decision to form an emergency coalition government, saying he did not think a fourth Israeli election was in Israel’s interest.

“As for the annexation in the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo said. “That’s an Israeli decision, and we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in a private setting.”

The acquisition of these territories by force is illegal under international law. Late in 2016, the UN Security Council declared that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are a “flagrant violation under international law”.

On his part,Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in remarks aired on Wednesday that his administration would regard agreements with Israel and the United States “completely cancelled” if Israel annexes land in the occupied West Bank.

“We have informed the relevant international parties, including the American and the Israeli governments, that we will not stand hand-cuffed if Israel announces the annexation of any part of our land,” Abbas said on Palestine TV.

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