Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinians on Thursday to prepare to thwart plans to annex parts of the West Bank to Israel, after the victory of Israel’s far-right in the Nov.1 ballot.
In a speech broadcast on state television, Abbas addressed Palestinians who gathered in the central Gaza Strip to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the death of President Yasser Arafat.
“We have to be ready for the next phase,” Abbas stressed. He called for thwarting again the annexation scheme and attempts to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
“Israelis realize that the will of the Palestinian people cannot be broken, and we tell them that we are here and we will not leave.”
He pledged to preserve Arafat’s “legacy” and reiterated that there is no state in the West Bank without Gaza, and there is no state in Gaza without the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Arafat died in a Paris military hospital on November 11, 2004, a month after being flown, seriously ill, from his battered headquarters in Ramallah, where he had been effectively confined by Israel for several years.
Palestinians accused Israel of being the reason behind his illness, which later caused death.
Dozens of Palestinian students, employees and citizens took part in a rally in Ramallah, during which they raised the Palestinian flag and pictures of Arafat and chanted national slogans.
Some of them headed to the city’s northern entrance and threw stones at Israeli soldiers.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, live ammunition injured two Palestinians during clashes with soldiers.
Abbas called for ending the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which has been controlled by Hamas Movement since 2007.
Addressing the enclave’s citizens, Abbas said: “We will remain united until we end the division and defeat the occupation.”
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides warned in an interviews that the White House would push back against any attempts by the expected incoming Israeli government to annex all or parts of the West Bank.
“Our position is quite clear: We do not support annexation. We will fight any attempt to do so,” Nides told Israeli media on Thursday, adding that “most of the Arab countries” feel the same way.
Just ahead of the Abraham Accords in 2020, then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an intention to move ahead with annexing portions of the West Bank with the support of then-president Donald Trump
However, his plan was met with a US reservation related to the timing, a massive international rejection, and a threat by Palestine to regard agreements with Israel and the United States “completely cancelled.”
There are concerns in Palestine and Israel that Netanyahu, who is close to forming a right-wing government, will revive his plan.
“I’m not going to make draconian statements that I’m not ever going to talk to anyone — it doesn’t matter left or right,” said Nides. “We’ll see who gets to be in these positions… I want to see rhetorically what they say and how they act.”
The US envoy told Kan that he intends to work closely with the expected future right-wing government.
“I want to start with a relationship with this government that is strong, that is enduring. I want to work closely with prime minister Netanyahu,” said Nides.
“That said, we have to stand up for the things that we believe in — that’s what American values are about… There will be times that we will articulate what we believe our differences are.”