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Sweden slams Netanyahu for election pledge

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STOCKHOLM, 11 Sep 2019 [Fik/News Sources]: Sweden’s new foreign minister on Tuesday condemned Israel’s prime minister's “unfortunate statement" to annex the Jordan Valley.

A “two-state solution” must be a prerequisite for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, Ann Linde told state broadcaster SVT.

The EU and international community say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision is against international law, she said.

Netanyahu said Israel will impose its sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and other settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins next week’s election.

Roughly 70,000 Palestinians, along with 9,500 Jewish settlers, currently live in the Jordan Valley -- a large, fertile strip of land that accounts for one-quarter of the West Bank.

Israel claims the valley is vital to its security and has consistently rejected the notion of relinquishing any part of it in any future settlement with the Palestinians.

Earlier this month Netanyahu renewed a pledge to annex all settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank. "With God's help, we'll apply Jewish sovereignty on all the settlements, as part of the land of Israel and as part of the state of Israel," he said.

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 want these territories, along with the Gaza Strip, to establish a future Palestinian state.

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

Sweden's former Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, announced her intention Friday to leave her post, paving the way for Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to name Linde, the trade minister and Social Democratic party veteran, to the position Tuesday.

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