Ahead of the Israeli parliamentary elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday has pledged to annex Kiryat Arba settlement and the old-city area of Hebron (Al-Khalil) if re-elected in the upcoming election on Tuesday.
Netanyahu made this promise in an interview on the Israeli army radio, where he responded to a question if he is willing to annex "the Jewish parts of Hebron including Kiryat Arba settlement". Netanyahu responded that "these areas will be part of Israel," adding: "But I need a mandate to do so".
Earlier this month, Netanyahu made a visit to occupied Hebron (Al-Khalil) and said: "We will remain here forever."
Israel's election: will Netanyahu survive?
Israelis vote on Tuesday for the second time in less than six months in an election that could see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win a record fifth term - or end his decade-long dominance of Israeli politics.He faces formidable challengers to his reign and, after the vote, possible criminal charges in three corruption cases.The last polls taken before election day show a race that is too close to call. They predict Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party tied with the centrist Blue and White, with neither securing an outright majority.However, about 10 parties are likely to win parliament seats. The polls also show increasing support for a right-wing, pro-Netanyahu bloc of factions that could hand him a victory.Here are a number of possible scenarios for how the election could play out:1. NETANYAHU WINS CONTROL OF MAJORITY OF KNESSET SEATSLikud, together with the three right-wing and religious parties that have already declared their support for him, win a majority. With at least 61 lawmakers, Netanyahu would have little trouble assembling a coalition similar to his outgoing cabinet, which supported his hawkish position on Iran and the 2015 nuclear deal, and took a tough stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the run-up to the election Netanyahu said he would annex the Jordan Valley and all the settlements Israel has built in the occupied West Bank - land the Palestinians seek for a state. Such a move would delight Netanyahu's far-right allies.2. NO CLEAR WINNER AND NETANYAHU UNITY GOVERNMENTAfter election day, Israel's president consults with party leaders, asking them who they would support for prime minister. President Reuven Rivlin then asks the candidate he believes has the best chance to try to form a government. Netanyahu had his opportunity after the previous election in April, but failed within the allocated 42 days. Rather than risk Rivlin appointing someone else to try, Netanyahu opted for a second election.If he is again chosen, and again faces a stalemate, Netanyahu could go outside his bloc of right-wing and Jewish religious parties to form a so-called "national unity" government with those who are not his natural allies.That would likely mean his strongest rival, Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White. But Gantz has said he would not join a Netanyahu-led government, citing possible corruption indictments against Netanyahu. But Israeli politics are famously fluid, with ever-shifting fealties.3. NO CLEAR WINNER, CENTRE-RIGHT GOVERNMENT FORMED WITHOUT NETANYAHUIf Netanyahu again fails to form a government, his own party could oust him to pave the way for a governing coalition between Likud and Gantz's Blue and White, leaving Netanyahu in the political wilderness.So far, no one in Likud has publicly broached such an idea. That could change if Netanyahu comes up short in coalition talks.4. NETANYAHU CLEARLY DEFEATED, CENTRE-LEFT GOVERNMENTIf the centre and left-wing parties garner a majority in parliament, Gantz would head a government that could include his own party as well as the Labour Party and the newly-formed, environmentalist and secularist Democratic Camp, without needing an alliance with the right. It would be the first time since the 1990s that the left controlled parliament. But with an electorate shifting steadily toward the right, polls are not showing much likelihood of such a scenario.However, if a left-leaning coalition were ultimately formed, it would be likely to pursue peace talks with the Palestinians and be more open to concessions as part of a lasting peace accord. It could also be more accepting of the nuclear deal struck between world powers and Iran.5. NO CLEAR WINNER, NEW ELECTIONSIf no candidate can form a government, Israel would head to another snap election. But lawmakers are likely to do all they can to avoid a third this year.HOW DOES THE ISRAELI ELECTION WORK?The 120 Knesset (parliament) seats are allocated by proportional representation to party lists. In order to win seats, a party must get at least 3.25 percent of the national vote, equivalent to 4 seats. In the election in April, Likud and Blue and White came out on top, tied at 35 seats each. No one party has ever won an outright majority of the 120-seat Knesset in 71 years of nationhood. This makes post-election coalitions the key to victory, and negotiations can stretch on for weeks.WHO'S THE KINGMAKER?According to the polls, it is Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's hawkish ex-defence minister. Polls suggest the ultra-nationalist settler will double his seats from five to about 10. Lieberman, head of the Israel Beitenu party, has said he would only join a unity government comprised of Likud and Blue and White.However, Lieberman is something of a wild card and has made unpredictable moves in the past.WHAT ABOUT NETANYAHU'S LEGAL WOES?Israel's attorney-general, who has announced his intention to indict Netanyahu in three corruption investigations, is expected to decide whether to formally charge him by the end of 2019 after a pre-trial hearing in October, during which Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing, can argue against indictment.A majority in the Knesset could grant Netanyahu immunity from prosecution until the end of his term. Some of his prospective allies signalled they would support such a move, but it would probably draw a public outcry and legal challenges at the Supreme Court. Even if indicted, Netanyahu would not be under strict legal obligation to step down. His right-wing and religious allies are not expected to pressure him to resign, even if he is charged.WHAT ABOUT TRUMP'S PEACE PLANNetanyahu has said he expects U.S. President Donald Trump to release his long-delayed plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace soon after the election. If Netanyahu wins and forms a right-wing cabinet, he would have a hard time getting his far-right allies to sign on to any peace plan involving concessions to the Palestinians. This could either destabilise the government or bury the Trump plan. A cabinet with Gantz in it would likely be more open to negotiations with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu also said that he already told U.S. President Donald Trump his intention "to declare sovereignty over all Jewish complexes" in occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu's remarks about annexing parts of Hebron (Al-Khalil) follows his pledge last week to annex the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.
Observers see these promises as parts of his electoral campaign to gain votes from the right-wing base in Israel.
On Sunday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation held an emergency meeting that addressed Netanyahu's plans and called upon the international community and the UN to react against these plans.
Turkish FM meets Palestinian, Jordanian counterparts
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday held bilateral meetings with his Palestinian and Jordanian counterparts.The meetings with Palestine's Riad al-Malki and Jordan's Ayman Safadi were held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference.Çavuşoğlu met al-Malki amid comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea if he wins the Sept. 17 elections."Discussed w/my brother FM Riad Malki of #Palestine latest regional developments, particularly #Israel's reckless aggression. #Turkey will continue to uphold the Palestinian cause in every forum and always support the Palestinian people," Çavuşoğlu said in a tweet after the meeting.Çavuşoğlu later held a bilateral meeting with Safadi."Met w/FM @AymanHsafadi of #Jordan. Will continue to strengthen our cooperation w/Jordan through our joint efforts not only in our bilateral relations but also in the defense of the Palestinian cause," Çavuşoğlu tweeted after meeting.In an earlier tweet after the emergency meeting of OIC, he blasted Israel's illegal policies and said the international community "should finally put an end to Israel’s violent policiesinitiatives of expansion of illegal settlements".Çavuşoğlu also said the international community "should ensure that Palestinians live in a free #Palestine, in peace and dignity".Roughly 70,000 Palestinians -- along with some 9,500 Jewish settlers -- currently live in the Jordan Valley, which is a large, fertile strip of land that accounts for roughly one-quarter of the West Bank's overall territory.Turkey, Arab League and European countries said they were concerned by Netanyahu's annexation statement, with UN secretary general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric saying the annexation plan would violate international law.International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.Turkey vows to defend Palestinian cause till the very end
Turkey, Arab League and European countries said they were concerned by Netanyahu's annexation statement, with UN secretary general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric saying the annexation plan would violate international law.
International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there as illegal.
Roughly 70,000 Palestinians -- along with some 9,500 Jewish settlers -- currently live in the Jordan Valley, which is a large, fertile strip of land that accounts for roughly one-quarter of the West Bank's overall territory.
Islamic bloc slams Israeli occupation of Palestine
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called on the international community, especially the UN, to condemn Israel's illegal settlements.In its final communiqué on Sunday, the OIC summit held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia condemned Israel's colonial policies in occupied Palestine and all attempts to change the demographic composition through illegal settlements.The statement also condemned Israel's forced displacement of Palestinian citizens in violation of international humanitarian law, calling these criminal acts a threat to international peace, security and stability in the Middle East and the world.It slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stated intention to “apply Israeli sovereignty on all of the Jordan Valley, northern Dead Sea and settlements in the occupied West Bank”, describing it as a dangerous escalation, a further serious encroachment on the historical and legal rights of the Palestinian people, and a flagrant breach of the UN Charter and international law.It called on the international community to take all measures required to confront Israel "including boycotting and imposing economic and political sanctions".It urged all OIC member states to raise the issue of Palestine and the illegitimate Israeli occupation during the 74th UN General Assembly next week.It said peace and security in the Middle East could not be achieved without a full Israeli withdrawal from the 1967 occupied territory of Palestine, including Jerusalem.The OIC member countries stressed their support for the Palestinian efforts to gain greater international recognition of the State of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967, calling on nations that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so as soon as possible.