Russia 'concerned' over Netanyahu’s annexation plan

– Israeli premier’s annexation plan would undermine hopes for peace between Israel, Arab neighbors: Russian Foreign Ministry

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex Jordan Valley would escalate tensions in the region, Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Wednesday.

"We share our concern over such plans of the Israeli leadership, the implementation of which could lead to a sharp escalation of tension in the region and undermine hopes for the establishment of a long-awaited peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement came a day after Netanyahu pledged that if he wins general elections slated for Sept. 17, he would annex parts of occupied lands in the West Bank including north of the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley.

Moscow also reaffirmed its "consistent and unchanging" position to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of two-state solution within the 1967 borders.

On Thursday, Netanyahu will travel to Russian coastal city of Sochi, where he is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see these territories — along with the Gaza Strip — as integral for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.