Palestinians warn Israel over W. Bank annexation plans

GAZA CITY (AA): Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have warned of grave consequences over Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

“Any decision by the [Israeli] occupation to annex the West Bank will cause heavy damage,” Ashraf Zayed, a member of Hamas group, told a rally in Gaza City on Tuesday.

“Such a move will not go unanswered and will cause uncontrolled reactions,” he said, describing the Israeli annexation plans as a “conspiracy”.

Zayed warned that any annexation of the West Bank by Israel “will aggravate the suffering of the Palestinian people”, going on to call for rallying efforts to close the Palestinian ranks to protect their rights.

Israel is expected to carry out the annexation on July 1, as agreed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of Blue and White party Benny Gantz.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation plans, which will undermine the two-state solution.

US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” plan was announced Jan. 28. It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank.

The plan states the establishment of a Palestinian state in the form of an archipelago connected by bridges and tunnels.

Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30-40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem.

The plan has drawn widespread criticism from the Arab world and was rejected by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which urged “all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form.”