Palestine, Turkey denounce Netanyahu's campaign pledge to change West Bank status

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami addressing the group’s conference in Washington

Ahead of Tuesday's election, Netanyahu has pledged to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. "And the answer is, yes".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 29, 2018.

As part of the decision, 1,226 homes were reportedly cleared with final approval for construction even before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to all Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria if he succeeds in elections scheduled to take place this week.

In October a year ago, Netanyahu held surprise talks with Oman's Sultan Qaboos in Muscat - raising Palestinian fears of a normalisation of ties.

Saeb Erekat, a veteran former Palestinian negotiator, said he held the global community, especially the Trump administration, responsible for Israel's policies.

Some 400,000 Israeli settlers and 2.8 million Palestinians now live in in the West Bank. "I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians".

"His declaration is not just in the heat of. electioneering campaigns", said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestine Liberation Organization official.

Mr Netanyahu mentioned the recent United States recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights as an achievement.

"Such a statement by Netanyahu is not surprising", Erekat said on Twitter.

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Jewish voters in the US have traditionally sided heavily with Democrats, but Republicans are hoping to narrow the gap next year, in part as Trump cites actions that he says show he's more pro-Israel.

He added, "We'll continue to pursue our rights through global forums, including the worldwide criminal court, until we achieve our long overdue justice". But he called the promise "the ultimate Hail Mary pass", and one that came with little political risk.

Downing Street officials have reportedly been in closed discussions with their counterparts at the White House since past year on the subject of a further visit by President Trump, with both parties expected to make an announcement in the next few days. "Maybe he can actually get Trump to sign off on that as well".

Trump says he thinks "that is the most important thing I think that's ever happened in their life". The global community does not recognize the annexation and believes the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements requires mutual agreement with the Palestinians.

"I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements", he continued, The Associated Press reports.

Netanyahu vowed to annex the occupied West Bank if he wins the general election which is slated for April 9.

In recent months, Israel has been courting Gulf Arab states.

Netanyahu also dismissed the idea of Palestinian statehood, which he said would "endanger our existence".

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