Israel's prime minister on Tuesday vowed to annex the strategic heartland of the West Bank if he wins national elections next week, offering a vision that would likely end any remaining hopes for establishing a Palestinian state.
Ahead of his speech, Netanyahu's team billed the announcement as "dramatic" and allowed rumors to float about what the troubled leader would be discussing just one week ahead of his next election.
At the United Nations, Secretary General Antonio Guterres's spokesman said "any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any global legal effect".
"If I am elected I commit to annex the Jordan Valley".
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War in a move never recognized by the worldwide community.
The 2,400-square kilometre Jordan Valley, which Palestinians seek for the eastern perimeter of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stretches from the Dead Sea in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north.
"Israel's unprecedented culture of impunity, enabled by global inaction, is the only explanation for Mr. Netanyahu's audacity in using annexation as an election ploy, and asking the Israeli public to facilitate yet another Israeli crime", said Erekat, who lives in the Jordan Valley.
"This is a historic opportunity, a one-time opportunity, to extend Israeli sovereignty on our settlements in Judea and Samaria, and also on other important regions for our security, for our heritage and for our future", he said, using the biblical terms for the West Bank. It is home to many Palestinian farms and also is one of the few remaining areas of the territory where the Palestinians have open space to develop.
Israel has long said it intends to maintain military control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
It's a move advocacy groups said would violate global law and the human rights of Palestinians.
The global community, along with the Palestinians, overwhelmingly considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal.
Netanyahu was not clear about the fate of the Palestinians.
Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned the move risks "killing off the entire peace process".
"He is not only destroying the two-state solution, he is destroying all chances of peace", senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told news agency AFP. "This is a serious escalation that undermines all peace efforts", he said.
Netanyahu's challengers accused him of playing politics.
The U.S. plan, Netanyahu reiterated, would likely be presented very soon after Israel goes to the polls on September 17.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, on June 30, 2019. He also claimed to have located a previously unknown Iranian nuclear weapons facility, and later this week, flies to Russian Federation for a lightning meeting with President Vladimir Putin.