Beto O'Rourke calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 'racist'

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected

On Saturday, Netanyahu pledged that he would not dismantle a single Jewish settlement and that Israel would retain control of the territory west of the Jordan River, known as the West Bank.

The president says "we need more Republicans".

"West Bank is Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in violation of int'l law", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter. I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement...

Israel Katz, the acting foreign minister and a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said its "great fear" was a split in the right-wing vote that would result in a second-place finish behind the centrist Blue and White faction. He criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as someone who "has also not been faithful in pursuing peace", pointing to inflammatory rhetoric and his "inability to bring his side to the table to negotiate in good faith".

Palestinians want to establish a state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian protesters seek cover from tear gas during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank region.

FILE - Men work on a new housing project in the West Bank settlement of Naale, Jan. 1, 2019. The settlements have also been the most contentious sticking point in the peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and the talks have remained stalled since 2014.

Roughly 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank under the control of the Israeli military, and some 400,000 Israelis live in the territory in settlements which are illegal under worldwide law - as would be their annexation by Israel, since the territory was acquired by war.

The Palestinians and many countries consider settlements to be illegal under the Geneva conventions that bar settling on land captured in war. Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical and political connections to the land. According to one news report, Netanyahu didn't even consider asserting sovereignty over the West Bank settlements until after Trump's Golan Heights decision, and he was certain Trump "would give him backing and legitimization" for the subsequent move once the long-expected US peace proposal was released and inevitably rejected by the Palestinians. In his prime time interview on Saturday, Netanyahu portrayed those moves of support from the Trump administration as his own achievements, the AP reports.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy about Netanyahu's remarks, which followed a series of announcements and policy changes by U.S. President Donald Trump that were seen to favor Israel.

In March, Trump broke with decades of worldwide consensus by recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured from Syria.

Malki accused the United States of encouraging Netanyahu by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and more recently, recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights. Both moves delighted Israel, infuriated Palestinian and Arab leaders, and were opposed by most US allies.

In a statement, Saeb Erekat, a veteran Palestinian negotiator, said, "Israel will continue to brazenly violate global law for as long as the worldwide community will continue to reward Israel with impunity, particularly with the Trump administration's support and endorsement of Israel's violation of the national and human rights of the people of Palestine".

The Palestinians have been boycotting the Trump administration over its Jerusalem moves and other recent decisions they view as biased in Israel's favor.

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