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Israel must 'abandon threats of annexation': UN envoy

A picture taken on May 13, 2020 shows a partial view of the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, near the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations' special envoy for the Mideast has called on Israel to abandon plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, joining a growing international chorus of opposition.

On Wednesday, Nickolay Mladenov also called on the Palestinians to resume talks with the so-called Quartet, comprising the US, Russia, the EU and the United Nations.

"Israel must abandon threats of annexation," Mladenov said during a meeting of the UN Security Council.

"I call on my colleagues in the Middle East Quartet to work with the UN and quickly come forward with a proposal that will enable the Quartet to take up its mediation role and work jointly with countries in the region to advance the prospect of peace," he added.

France mulling 'preventive, reprisal plan'

Meanwhile, France said Israel's planned annexation of the occupied territories of the West Bank would be a serious violation of international law, adding that Paris is working with other European countries to come up with a joint action plan should Israel make such a move, France's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

"For the past few days we have held several video conferences with European colleagues ... with a view to deciding on a joint preventive action and eventually a reprisal if such a decision were taken," Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a parliament hearing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said cabinet discussions will start in July over annexing the Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, as was mooted under US President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century," which he unveiled in January alongside Netanyahu without the presence of Palestinians.

In December 2017, Trump officially declared the disputed city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, despite warnings from around the world that the measure risks triggering a fresh wave of violence in the Middle East.

The scheme calls for the creation of a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders. It also bars Palestinian refugees from returning to their homeland, enshrines Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex settlements and the Jordan Valley.

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