Benjamin Netanyahu faces third election in less than a year

Beirut: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister seeking re-election for the third time in under a year, has again promised that the annexation of swathes of the occupied West Bank would happen within weeks if he wins Monday's election.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an Israeli army base in the Golan Heights on Sunday.Credit:AP

The appropriation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the region was his priority among "four major immediate missions" and would take no longer than two months, Netanyahu told Israeli public radio on Sunday.

Annexing the West Bank has long been seen as an endgame for Palestinian hopes of statehood.

The widely criticised Middle East "peace" plan by Donald Trump, the US president, published in January, gave Israel the green light for the move.

"The joint US-Israeli mapping committee started work a week ago," Netanyahu said.

Israeli soldiers secures a hill as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley near the Palestinians city of Jericho. Credit:AP

Israel's continued occupation is considered illegal under international law.

Following two inconclusive elections in April and September last year, opinion polls suggest that Israel is set to see another political stalemate.

Final polls published over the weekend showed Netanyahu's Likud party neck and neck with Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party, his rival. Gantz has also pledged to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

He says he will only form a partnership with Likud if Netanyahu steps down, while Netanyahu, who faces corruption charges in two weeks, says he must remain prime minister.

Telegraph, London

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