UN calls on Israel to drop annexation plans

The United Nations’ special Middle East envoy called on Israel to drop plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, joining a growing international chorus of opposition.

Envoy Nickolay Mladenov also called on the Palestinians to resume talks with the so-called Quartet, comprised of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations.

“Israel must abandon threats of annexation,” Mladenov said during a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

“I call on my colleagues in the Middle East Quartet to work with the UN and quickly come forward with a proposal that will enable the Quartet to take up its mediation role and work jointly with countries in the region to advance the prospect of peace,” he added.

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The unusually direct statement came a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced an end to the Palestinians’ security arrangements with the US and Israel, which has vowed to annex territories in the occupied West Bank.

“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones,” Abbas said at an emergency meeting for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on Tuesday.

The Palestinians have rejected a Middle East plan by US President Donald Trump’s administration that was proposed in January and that would see the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley.

Mladenov said he would speak on Thursday with Palestinian leaders about the practical consequences of their announcement, which were not spelled out by Abbas.

“The continuing threat of annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank would constitute a most serious violation of international law,” Mladenov warned.

It would “deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace and our broader efforts to maintain international peace and security,” he said.

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