0717 GMT February 29, 2020
“Iraq categorically rejects the statement made by Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the Zionist regime (of Israel), concerning his intention to include the Jordan Valley, and the northern Dead Sea to the occupied territories,” the ministry’s spokesman Ahmad al-Sahaf said in a statement released on Friday, according to Press TV.
The statement added, “We see it as an aggressive electoral propaganda and a racist settlement policy designed to deprive the Palestinian people of their rights, and a very dangerous occupation step towards Palestine, which will fuel the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the regions and needs an Arab and global reaction to be confronted.”
“Iraq stresses the importance of providing international protection for the Palestinian people and territories from the Israeli policy of expropriation by force, and demands a real, practical and responsible effort at all levels to address the expansionism of the Zionist regime, which deliberately violates international law and the UN Security Council resolutions, namely Resolution 242 and Resolution 338,” Sahaf said.
Meanwhile, Jordan on Thursday urged the permanent members of the UN Security Council to take "immediate and effective" actions against Netanyahu's pledge to annex the Jordan Valley and the adjacent northern Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank.
Speaking at a meeting in Amman with ambassadors from the US, Britain, France, China and Russia, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi called on the international community to take a clear stand and denounce the Israeli prime minister’s statement.
Safadi said the implementation of the announcement will jeopardize the so-called two-state solution.
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War in a move never recognized by the international community.
The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the West Bank. Israeli right-wing politicians have long viewed the 2,400-square kilometer (926.65-square mile) strategic area as a part of the territory they would never retreat from and stated that the Israeli military would maintain its control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu promised to annex the Jordan Valley if he wins next week's general elections, drawing sharp criticism from the Palestinians as well as countries in the Middle East, including Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
"There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the (September 17) elections. If I receive from you, citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do so ... today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” Netanyahu said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli TV channels.
Another war on Gaza
On Friday morning, Netanyahu said he may start another military operation in the besieged Gaza Strip before September 17, when snap elections are to be held in the occupied territories.
Another conflict with Gaza "could happen at any moment, including four days before the elections," Netanyahu said after returning from a brief trip to Russia.
“The date of the elections does not factor [into a decision to go to war],” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu had made the same threat before boarding a plane to Sochi, Russia, when he said in a radio interview, "It looks like there will be no other choice but to embark on a wide-scale campaign in Gaza."
The threats came a couple of days after Netanyahu was ridiculed for being rushed offstage during a rocket attack from the enclave.
During a campaign event in the port city of Ashdod on Tuesday, Netanyahu was forced to flee and seek shelter as rockets fired from Gaza threatened the area.
The siren went off just as Netanyahu began his speech and addressed hundreds of supporters of the right-wing Likud-National Liberal Movement, which he chairs.
In an extraordinary scene captured on video from the event, the Israeli prime minister can be seen being whisked away from the stage by a gaggle of security guards.
The scenes of Netanyahu being forced to take shelter a few days before the snap elections provided a counterpoint to the image he had tried to cultivate as “Mr. Security,” Israeli media reported.
Emboldened by the scenes, his rivals are reportedly attacking Netanyahu for his cabinet’s failure to counter the Palestinian resistance group Hamas.
Since the Tuesday humiliation, the Israeli military has launched a number of airstrikes and artillery attacks against the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military frequently bombs Gaza, with civilians being the main target of such attacks.