Palestinian premier vows to declare independence amid annexation threat
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh pledged on Wednesday to unilaterally declare an independent Palestinian state according to 1967 borders, if the Israeli government goes ahead with a plan to annex one-third of the West Bank.
"If Israel is going to annex after July 1st, we are going to go from the interim period of the Palestinian Authority into the manifestation of a state on the ground. That is where we will be heading in the next phase. This authority cannot continue to be an authority without any authority," Sky News quoted Shtayyeh as saying.
The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to annex most of the Jordan Valley area and blocs of Israeli settlements in the West Bank by 1 July, in violation of international law.
A widely condemned 'peace plan' presented earlier this year by US President Donald Trump awarded the Jordan Valley, illegally constructed settlements in the West Bank, and Jerusalem to Israel, leaving Palestinians with a series of non-contiguous enclaves covering only 15 percent of historic Palestine.
The Trump plan makes the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state impossible and was rejected outright by PA. Israel is planning its proposed annexations in line with the Trump plan.
Shtayyeh told Sky News that the Palestinian Authority was preparing to declare sovereignty over the whole of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to counter the Israeli annexation efforts.
"What does the manifestation of the state on the ground mean? It means that there will be a founding council, there will be a constitutional declaration, and Palestine will be on the borders of '67 with Jerusalem as its capital and we will call our international community to recognise this fact," he said.
On Tuesday, Shtayyeh said that the Palestinian Authority would submit a proposal to the Quartet group, which mediates negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians (made up of the UN, the US, the EU, and Russia) for an "independent and demilitarised" Palestinian state with "minor modifications" to borders in the "West Bank" where necessary.
There are over 700,000 Israelis living in Israeli settlements, which have been built since 1967 in violation of international law. On Wednesday, Israeli officials said that Israel’s annexations would start with three major settlement concentrations in the West Bank.
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