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Arab League says Israel exploiting coronavirus crisis to expand settlements

Israeli police patrol on a street to enforce a partial lockdown against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds March 30, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

The Arab League has warned against attempts by the Israeli regime to annex more Palestinian land and expand its settlements on the occupied territories at a time when the world is engaged in a fight against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a telephone conversation with Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat on Tuesday, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Israel was exploiting the international community’s preoccupation with the viral outbreak to push ahead with its settlement expansion in the occupied territories.

Aboul Gheit warned Israel against implementing its annexation plans for the occupied Palestinian territories, whether in the Jordan Valley, the northern West Bank or elsewhere.

“This is tantamount to playing with fire and an open call to ignite the situation, at a time when the world needs to focus all its efforts on confronting the epidemic,” he added.

The Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

The Arab league head further raised concerns about Israel’s mistreatment of around 5,000 Palestinian prisoners and its inhumane behavior toward Palestinian workers.

Earlier in the week, Aboul Gheit wrote to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), calling on the humanitarian organization to help secure the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention centers amid rising cases of infection with the new coronavirus in the occupied territories.

The new coronavirus first showed up in China before spreading to other parts of the world.

The virus has killed 71 in the Israeli-occupied territories and infected 8,532 others. Across the Palestinian territories, it has claimed one life and resulted in 218 cases of infection.

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