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Saturday September 21st, 2019 5:11AM

The Latest: Netanyahu pledge dims hope for Palestinian state

By The Associated Press
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JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement that he will begin annexing West Bank settlements if he wins national elections next week (all times local):

8:10 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to annex the heart of the West Bank if he wins re-election next week could inflame the Middle East and extinguish any remaining Palestinian hope of establishing a separate state.

Arab leaders angrily condemned Netanyahu's remarks on Tuesday, and a U.N. spokesman warned the step would be "devastating" to the prospects for a two-state solution.

Netanyahu said he would extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley — an area seen as the breadbasket of any Palestinian state — shortly after forming a new government and would move later to annex other Jewish settlements.

Such action would swallow up most of the West Bank territory sought by the Palestinians, leaving them with little more than isolated enclaves.

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9:55 p.m.

The Israeli military says that it intercepted two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward the southern city of Ashdod.

The rocket fire interrupted a Likud party campaign rally where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was speaking.

After being taken away by security guards, Netanyahu returned minutes later and continued addressing the crowd.

No injuries were reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket launches.

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9:25 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been whisked away from a campaign rally after air raid sirens sounded.

Sirens sounded Tuesday evening warning of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip while Netanyahu was speaking at an event in the southern city of Ashdod.

Netanyahu told the audience to remain calm as his guards led him away.

The Israeli military said it was investigating.

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9:10 p.m.

World leaders are denouncing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call to annex large parts of the West Bank in the event he wins the upcoming election.

Stephane Dujarric, a United Nations spokesman, said Tuesday that the organization maintains that any Israeli move to impose its administration over the Palestinian territory "would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution."

The Arab League also condemned Netanyahu's remarks as "a serious development and an Israeli aggression" that, if carried out, amount to "an Israeli declaration for the end of the peace process."

Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said in a statement that annexation of Israel's West Bank settlements would fan the flames of conflict around the region

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7:50 p.m.

Israel's prime minister is vowing to begin annexing West Bank settlements if he wins national elections next week.

Tuesday's announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be aimed at shoring up support of hard-line nationalist voters.

Netanyahu is in a tight race and has turned to a series of dramatic announcements in recent days as part of a frantic effort to mobilize his supporters.

Netanyahu says Israel must lay out its vision as President Donald Trump prepares to unveil his Mideast peace plan.

Annexing settlements would likely spell the end of any lingering hopes of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Netanyahu made no mention of what he would do with the territory's more than 2 million Palestinian residents.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP World News
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