Israel's prime minister said he plans to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he wins next week's election. The EU, Palestinian and Arab officials condemned the plan as blow to peace.
"Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea," Netanyahu said in a televised speech.
Netanyahu also repeated his intention to annex other Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if he is re-elected, although that would only come after consulting with US President Donald Trump who is expected to soon unveil his peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He did not mention what he would do with the Jordan Valley's Palestinian residents.
The Israeli leader has been making a last-minute push to rally right-wing and religious-nationalist votes ahead of Israel's general election on September 17. The poll is expected to be a closely contested race between Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party and the centrist Blue and White party, led by ex-military chief Benny Gantz.
The September election had to be called after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition.
DW's Tania Kramer in Jerusalem said the pledge was not a new one, as Israel has always seen the Jordan Valley as a security border. However, it would be a "dramatic development, which would go against international law."
'Killing all chances for peace'
Should Netanyahu move forward with the plans, the move would effectively crush any hopes for a two-state solution in the conflict, which has long been the focus of international diplomacy.
The European Union said the pledge undermines any prospects for peace. A spokesperson said the bloc "will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders" of Israel.
"The policy of settlement construction and expansion ... is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace," the EU spokesperson said in a statement.
The Arab League said in a statement it considered the announcement "a new Israeli aggression" in violation of international law.
"The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations," Arab foreign ministers said.
Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi wrote on Twitter that "killing all chances for peace for electoral purposes is irresponsible, dangerous." Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states with official relations with Israel.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote on Twitter that Netanyahu exposed his "real political agenda of superimposing 'greater Israel' on all of historical Palestine & carrying out an ethnic cleansing agenda."
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that "the Palestinian territory is not part of Netanyahu's election campaign."
The Jordan Valley comprises around one-third of the West Bank and contains numerous Israeli settlements. The settlements are regarded as illegal under international law by most countries in the world.
The Jordan Valley is a 2,400 square kilometer (927 square mile) territory that stretches from the Dead Sea in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north. Palestinians want the valley to serve as the eastern perimeter of their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
rs/cw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)